Heirloom Recipes

Transform Stale Bread the Italian Way

August  2, 2017

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. This one comes from Kyoko Ide, a Japanese photographer based in Narni, Italy, who shares a comforting snack made from ingredients you likely have on hand right now.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

This is a family recipe of my Italian husband’s from Rome. His mom used to serve Crostini alla Romana as an antipasto when they had dinner parties or house guests.

His father loved anchovies and this was one of his favorite dishes, so it wasn’t only reserved for company. She would also make it just for her family sometimes too, usually on Fridays (when they often ate fish), along with pasta e ceci—although when there was a request by the family, she would make it on any other day of the week.

Crostini alla Romana is made with what's always in the kitchen—stale bread (called pane rifatto or “re-done bread" in Rome), mozzarella cheese, anchovies, and some fresh herbs on top. The fresh herbs are a key ingredient, and usually Romans use mint, but since my husband's mother didn't like mint, she would use something else, fresh oregano or Italian parsley, two herbs that were always in the kitchen. Here I used flat leaf parsley, but in addition to oregano, thyme or sage also work well.

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The stale bread is soaked in milk to soften, then cooked with oil in a frying pan; it's crispy on the surface but soft inside. You eat it with a fork and knife, so it’s sort of like savory French toast without eggs, topped with mozzarella and anchovy.

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Japanese photographer living in Italy