Not a Crumb Wasted

By Mary Reilly, Photo by Dominic Perri

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Rustic, lovely loaves of bread rise up across our Valley. The use of local flour and sourdoughs only adds to the sense of place found in each slice. It seems like a crime to waste even a bite. Instead, try one of these no-brainer bread-savers:

Make croutons. Toss cubes of stale bread with oil and a pinch of salt. If storing the croutons for later, they should be dried out completely, so put ½- to ¾-inch-thick cubes or slices into a low oven (275°) until completely dry and crisp. Use a high oven (375°) and larger cubes if using your croutons right away—in panzanella, for instance.

Breadcrumbs. Cut thin slices of stale bread. Pulse in food processor until as “crumby” as desired. Toast in low oven until dry, or store “fresh” in the freezer. Toss crunchy crumbs over pasta or bean dishes to add texture.

Panade. French onion soup without the soup: A cheesy rich layering of stale bread, onions, and broth. See EPV issue 18 for a method.

Panzanella (or bread salad, pictured below) does not need a recipe and is one of my favorite year-round go-tos. Toss croutons with chopped fresh vegetables and a citrusy dressing, adding beans or hard-boiled eggs to up the protein. In the summer, it’s all about the tomatoes, but as we enter fall, I’ll use shredded kale, roasted butternut, and pickled onions.