Don't Toss That Loaf! 7 Ways to Turn Day-Old Bread into Dinner

March 21, 2018

Let's take a little quiz (the fun kind).

True or False:
1. I have stale bread
2. I have hummus (or some other all-purpose condiment), a wedge (or two) of cheese, a jar of marinated or pickled vegetables, and/or a cooked protein
3. I'm too tired to make dinner tonight
4. Toast (especially fancy toast) is not just for breakfast

Now, give yourself a point for each statement you answered "true." If your score was 1 point or higher, this article is for you.

If you've never thought to use your grill (or grill pan) for bread, think again. Grilled bread is a crispy, sturdy, versatile vehicle for almost any odds and ends you have on hand, either to snack on or to fashion into a meal. Paula Disbrowe, author of our forthcoming book, Any Night Grilling, shares her tips for grilling bread and making it the main event.

  • Start with a sturdy loaf of day-old artisan bread. It has less moisture than a just-baked loaf, so it will toast better, and its flavor will be intensified by the heat of the fire. Paula loves levain or miche, but any rustic or hearty country-style loaf that can hold its own against a char will work just fine.
  • Cut the bread into 1/2-inch (1.3cm) slices, place them over a medium fire, and use tongs to flip the bread when grill marks appear and the bread is toasted, about 1 minute on each side.
  • Swipe a halved clove of garlic, cut side down, over the top of the bread, drizzle with your best extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with flaky salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a few fresh herbs (small whole leaves or chiffonade), if desired.

Next step, pile the bread high with toppings of your choice. The equations below contain a few kinds of components to spread on your grilled bread, but all add up to one thing: a satisfying meal.

  • Softened butter + juice from a grilled lemon + smoked salmon
  • Olive tapenade + grilled eggplant + fresh mozzarella
  • Feta (pureed with olive oil and red pepper flakes) + grilled ribbons of crookneck squash + small fresh mint leaves
  • Kewpie mayo + shaved parmesan + grilled mackerel + thinly sliced serrano
  • Hummus + rings of pickled peppers + microgreens
  • Chopped chicken + grilled lemon mayo
  • Sliced potatoes + dill mayo + pickled red onions

Use Paula's suggestions as a jumping off point to mix, match, and riff to your heart's desire. Move over, avocado (though that's great on grilled bread, too)—there are new toppings in town.

What's your favorite way to turn bread into dinner? Share your favorite combinations in the comments! If you still have loaves to spare, pre-order Any Night Grilling for more ideas on how to transform them grill-side.

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Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

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Brinda is the Director of Content at Food52, where she oversees all site content across Food52 and Home52. She likes chewy Neapolitan pizza, stinky cheese of all sorts, and tahini-flavored anything. Brinda lives in Brooklyn with 18 plants and at least one foster pup (sometimes more). Find her at @brindayesterday on Twitter and Instagram.