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.

Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Rice

Recipe by Brittany Wood Nickerson, reprinted with permission from ThymeHerbal.com.

As the weather gets colder, herbalist (and Casey’s partner) Brittany Wood Nickerson suggests warming up with carminative herbs and spices. According to Nickerson, “Carminatives increase circulation to the digestive tract, improving the digestion and absorption of nutrients.” Get started with carminatives with this recipe highlighting Old Friends Farm’s ginger and turmeric crops.

1½  cups white basmati rice

2 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons grated fresh turmeric root

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the rice in several changes of cold water until the rinse water runs clear. I do this by running cold water over the rice while it sits in a fine metal strainer or in a glass measuring container (the rice sinks to the bottom and the water washes through it, then spills out the sides).

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized, heavy-bottom saucepan. Over low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, reduce the heat to as low as your stove will go, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed. This rice goes well with almost anything and is yummy garnished with cilantro (which, by the way, is a carminative!).

Nettle and Mushroom Risotto

Nettles' dark green leaves are so nutritious! If you do not have access to fresh nettles, you can substitute kale or spinach. As far as I am concerned, risotto is as flavorful and nutritious as the broth you make it with. I made this with homemade chicken stock and the soaking liquid from dehydrated mushrooms.

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Beet Pancakes

On June 20, Red Fire Farm hosted their annual Strawberry Soirée. This event is a day-long festival celebrating these juicy, bright red berries. You can see all the fun here in Red Fire's photo album

The day concludes with The Feast in The Fields, a vegetarian, farm-centric meal. For the last two years, I've had the pleasure of being the chef for this event. It's a lot of fun and engaging professional challenge to prepare many courses, for many people, from the gorgeous fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. 

Whenever I feed a large group of people, I'm always curious to see which dish is the most popular. Sometimes the group is split as to a favorite, but last Saturday these beet pancakes were the belle of the ball!

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Crouton Rags

I call these Crouton Rags because the bread is torn apart, giving them an appealing tattered texture. I think the croutons are best made with a Polenta Bâtard (page 219), but they’re also tasty made with a Pain de Campagne Bâtard (page 163). Don’t try to make all the croutons the same size—a range from 1 to 21/2 inches across is good. I keep them on the smaller side to use in the Della Panzanella (page 227) or make them slightly larger for the Tomato Bread Soup. Tear the bread into pieces a bit bigger than you want the crouton to be; they shrink up a bit when toasted.

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Mushroom and Lentil Salad

This salad is a great way to showcase fresh mushrooms. We used large oyster mushrooms in our version, but you can use shiitake, portobello, or even crimini or button mushrooms in a pinch. There are a few components to this dish, but the lentils and dressing can be made several days ahead.

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Shiitake Ginger Glaze

The recipe, courtesy of Julia at Mycoterra, produces a sweet-salty glaze that is perfumed with the fragrance of shiitake mushrooms. This recipe can made several days ahead. Slather it on chicken, fish or tempeh before roasting or broiling. For a quick supper, toss it with rice noodles and shredded greens and top with a fried egg.

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