What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of saltine crackers? If your mind went straight to munching on saltines to help alleviate an upset stomach, you're not alone. Despite their reputation as being bland crackers that are easy on digestion, they're one of many old school ingredients that are making a comeback. Saltines are simple and unremarkable on their own, but those qualities also make them sneakily versatile. Out of the package, you can use them on a cheeseboard, spread on jam for a sweet snack, or simply crush them over a creamy soup, but with the help of a little heat and some oil, you can turn saltines into the perfect substitute for croutons.
Just as you can revive stale bread into croutons, you can also give saltines a makeover by quickly frying them. Thanks to how thin these crackers are, you don't even need a deep fryer to do this. Instead, a skillet or sauté pan and a few glugs of your favorite frying oil will do. When the oil reaches about 350 degrees Fahrenheit you can start frying the saltines, but be careful not to overcrowd the pan because they will cook fast. Once browned on both sides, letting them drain and cool over a baking tray lined with paper towels will help to absorb excess oil. After that, they're ready to be lightly crushed and sprinkled over salad or soup, adding crunch and flavor.
More Ways To Turn Saltines Into Perfect Croutons
As far as flavor goes, saltine crackers come modestly seasoned with just a bit of salt, but since you're enhancing them in your kitchen anyway, you have the freedom to spice them up when they come out of the fryer to suit the main dish. For example, if you're having taco salad, sprinkle the hot saltines with a bit of taco seasoning. If you're having gumbo and want to add fried saltines for crunch, top them with a bit of Old Bay seasoning. Even when you're making something like butter chicken curry and you want to use up old saltines in the pantry, fry them up and add a pinch of garam masala for a curry-themed crouton.
If you want to avoid the oiliness of deep frying altogether, saltine croutons can also be made in the oven. Coat your saltines in a little oil and place them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking them. Just like with frying, you'll want to turn them over once the first side has reached your desired level of golden brown. You can even apply this baking method to turn our Cajun firecracker crackers into croutons that are packed with an extra kick of flavor. These Cajun crackers are oil-marinated, though, so be sure to account for that with extra baking time as needed to make sure they're crisp.
Read the original article on Mashed.