I’ve always had visions of waking up on a Saturday morning and baking a rustic loaf of bread to enjoy all weekend long. For me, it feels like the essence of hygge… but a couple things stood in my way. First, the terminology of breadmaking (ie. yeast and rising and kneading and proofing) felt super intimidating. Second, it requires you to be home for a several hour stretch to perform the various required steps (ie. let the dough rise for an hour, then go back and divide it in two, and let it rise some more, etc etc) and it just never seemed to happen. But guess what! I recently got a copy of the fab cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford, and her super easy no-knead recipes gave me the push I needed to conquer my fears and start baking bread at home. It’s my new relaxing weekend tradition, and Adam couldn’t be happier to be my taste-tester.
More on that later, but for now, my bread baking tear has left me with a challenge: what to do with that half loaf of stale bread I always end up with? Since homemade bread doesn’t have any preservatives, it’s really only optimally soft for a couple days, so I’ve been getting resourceful and finding some pretty dang delicious ways to use it up. Read on, and let me know in the comments how you turn your day-old bread into carb-lover’s gold.
1 – Make Panzanella for dinner!
This is hands-down my favorite way to use up stale bread — when I know I’m going to be making a homemade loaf on the weekend, I go ahead and stock up on all the ingredients for Chanel’s Kale Sourdough Panzanella and feel good knowing I have a plan for that day-old bread.
ps – This radish and fennel version is soooo good, too.
2 – Toast breadcrumbs for coating chicken (or fish, or pork.)
Just pop your torn-up bread into a food processor and pulse until you get coarse crumbs, then toss around in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper over medium high until it gets toasty, about 5 minutes. Cool and use right away, or do as I do and freeze it for later. My favorite recipe for chicken paillard is even better with homemade breadcrumbs.
3 – Make a big pot of ribollita.
Also known as Tuscan bread and vegetable soup, and if you haven’t experienced it before, put it on your weekend to-do list ASAP. It’s a rustic and incredibly cozy dinner that can be thrown together using veggie scraps from your fridge, a can of beans, and of course that day-old bread you’ve got laying around. I love this recipe from my Green Kitchen Travels cookbook.
4 – Top your pasta with meatballs.
You know you want to, especially when it’s Half-Baked Harvest’s “Sunday Meatballs,” which is the most foolproof recipe for cozy entertaining ever. She uses a cool technique where you actually get the bread wet before adding it to the mix, which works even better when your bread is just a little stale.
6 – Make french toast for breakfast.
Slightly stale bread is like a sponge that soaks up all that buttery sweet goodness so much better than fresh. This Chai French Toast is ridiculously good!
7 – Ditch the store-bought croutons and go homemade.
They’re sooo much better and take almost zero effort. Whenever I take a few minutes to do this at home, everyone raves about how delish they are! Tear up your bread into 1-inch pieces (they don’t have to be uniform), then toss them in a skillet over medium-high heat with a little olive oil. Keep tossing occasionally until they’re crispy and golden, then season with salt and pepper and serve on this avocado-kale caesar salad or my roasted cauliflower and white bean soup.
8 – Serve bread pudding for dessert.
Yes please I want some right now. Pretty much everyone on the planet loves bread pudding (sorry #gf people) so why not save a few slices of stale bread to whip this up for a weekend treat? I’m obsessed with Donna Hay’s blueberry and raspberry version that is as pretty as it is delish.