Last week, I was halfway through an impromptu romesco—toasted almonds were in the food processor with chopped tomatoes sautéed with olive oil, minced garlic, crushed dried red chile, tomato paste, and sliced red bell pepper—when I remembered something: Suzanne Goin's romesco calls for a 1-inch-thick slice of fried country bread, which gets pulverized into breadcrumbs in the food processor.
As I looked around my tiny kitchen, where every single pan was already dirty, the thought of frying a single piece of bread to make breadcrumbs was not appealing.
Grasping for something salty, crunchy, carby, already-cooked, and within arm's reach, I opened the pantry and reached for the bag of pretzels. I threw a handful in the processor and gave it a whirl. It thickened (and seasoned) the mixture. We had romesco, albeit untraditional, for topping roasted vegetables. And the next day, I closed the circle, using the hacked romesco as a dip for even more pretzels.
Breadcrumbs, who needs them! When a recipe calls for crumbs made from stale or fried bread (that is, where you're not looking for bread to provide moisture, but rather crunch and texture), turn to your pantry for possibilities.
A few things to consider as you experiment:
What's the most creative recipe substitution you've ever made? Brag a little in the comments below!