Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread, for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.
But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.
Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.
French toast. In a bowl, beat 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place the bread in a pan, and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.
Croutons. Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into crouton-size cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook until crispy, stirring often. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grilled sandwiches. Make it cheese or chocolate — either way, you are in for a fab treat. For grilled chocolate, heat 1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk just until boiling. Remove from heat. Add 3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate. Let it stand for 1 minute, and then whisk until smooth. Allow it to cool slightly.
Spread butter on one side of 8 slices of stale sandwich bread. Divide chocolate on the unbuttered side of 4 slices, leaving a small border, and cover each with the remaining slices of bread. Cook sandwiches in a large skillet over medium-high heat for one to two minutes. Turn. Press with a spatula. And cook until nicely browned and the chocolate is barely melted, 30 seconds to one minute. Serve warm.
Crostini. Cut that hardened baguette into slices. Oil each one with a generous amount of olive oil, and then toast. Spread each with Dijon-style mustard, and then top with whatever you have available like creamed kale, tomato slices or sliced meat. Top with cheese — Parmesan, Gruyere, Swiss. Slide under the broiler to melt the cheese as needed. Serve immediately.
Sweet spiced breadsticks. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut any kind of flat bread (naan, pocketless pita, sourdough or even the crust you cut off the kids’ sandwiches) into strips about 3/4 inch by 4 inches.
In a medium bowl, toss strips with 4 tablespoons melted butter. In a second bowl, mix 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and a pinch of salt. Toss buttered strips in sugar mixture.
Lay strips on a sheet pan, and bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Let sticks cool slightly. Serve with jam.
Avocado toast. Spread any kind of toasted bread with a touch of schmear or mayonnaise followed by soft, buttery avocado, a bit of lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Kick it up with sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro, sprouts, sliced olives — whatever you have on hand.
Bread pudding. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Break 6 slices bread into small pieces, and place them in an 8-inch square baking pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons melted butter over bread. If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until the bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.