Italian

A New Life for Stale Bread—For Mush Lovers and Haters Alike

March  6, 2016

The best thing since sliced bread? Stale bread.

Photo by James Ransom

From stale bread comes bread puddings and stratas, croutons and breadcrumbs, soups and sauces, and more. Why, stale bread is so useful, sometimes we even find ourselves needing to stale it on purpose.

When stale bread shows up in soups, often times they are built around the stale bread from the start (I’m looking at you sopa de ajo and pancotto), but that's not the case with this recipe.

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It begins with minestra, a soup that easily straddles winter and spring with its mix of comforting ingredients (cabbage, cannellini beans) and vibrant flavors (fennel, dandelion greens, fennel seeds). (The author, Christina @ Christina’s Cucina is a World Porridge Champion, so if anyone knows comfort food, it must be her.)

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Top Comment:
“I like this recipe very much, as do I like many of the 'cooking with scraps' posts. In truth I suggest you and the editors of Food52 make this general topic into a 52 cookbook. The collection of recipes, suggestions, and perhaps even more ideas would be a wonderful compendium for many folks; a valuable contribution indeed. ”
— Saffron3
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And then it provides a second meal: The leftover minestra becomes a hearty, filling dish with the addition of stale, crusty Italian bread and generous drizzles of olive oil (not unlike the traditional preparation of ribollita).

Photo by Bobbi Lin

The dish is delicious as written, but rather than heat the minestra, bread, and olive oil all at the same time, I also tried starting with just the bread and the oil before adding any soup.

This created croutons that, when heated up with the soup, provided an pleasantly oil-soaked, crispy contrast to the rest of the soup—perfect for those who might be skeptical of mushy foods. Plus, fried bread is never a bad thing.

Know of a great recipe in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

5 Comments

Saffron3 March 10, 2016
Excellent news! It will be a hit out of the park...Go team 52!
 
Zozo March 9, 2016
One of my faves is definitely the chard stalk hummus - loved it so much I made and featured it for our own blog series: www.youthfoodmovement.org.au/spoonled-resources/
 
Saffron3 March 6, 2016
I like this recipe very much, as do I like many of the 'cooking with scraps' posts. In truth I suggest you and the editors of Food52 make this general topic into a 52 cookbook. The collection of recipes, suggestions, and perhaps even more ideas would be a wonderful compendium for many folks; a valuable contribution indeed.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. March 10, 2016
Thank you for the kind words Saffron3. In fact, something similar to your request just might be in the works. I'll keep you posted!
 
Kenzi W. March 6, 2016
This dish is my spirit animal.