Cooking on the cheap shouldn't mean minute rice and buttered pasta every night. With a little creativity and a little planning, you can make the most of a tight budget -- without sacrificing flavor or variety.
Today: Gabriella shows you that stale bread's still got it.
I like bread more than I like most people.
Bread is versatile, adaptable, comforting, and low maintenance. You can take bread anywhere, and everyone will be happy. It plays well with others (tapenades! hummus! avocados!) and it's always inclusive (get in there, sandwich fillings). But most importantly, even at its worst -- when it goes stale -- it's still pretty amazing.
How many people can you say that about?
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Still, there's a tendency to toss bread when it starts to harden, right when it's ready for a whole new round of uses. Instead of wasting food -- and money -- incorporate it into one of these recipes instead.
Croutons Make a batch of croutons and use them in salads and soups -- or just keep them around to snack on.
I like to think of Romesco Sauce as pesto's sophisticated older cousin from Spain. (I am forever anthropomorphizing my food.) Spread it on bread or slather it on broccoli, pasta, or your main protein.
French Toast French Toast is one of those dishes that has universal comfort food appeal -- and is just as great for dinner as it is for weekend breakfasts. Here's a foolproof way to make it, no recipe needed.
Ribollita Ribollita was initially an Italian peasant food, but it's since become a well-loved pantry dinner. This is the perfect soup to start making now and to keep cooking up all winter long -- the bread makes a real stick-to-your-ribs meal without much effort or cost. For another classic Italian take on stale bread, try out Pappa Al Pomodoro.
Panzanella Saying that I'm eating a "bread salad" never fails to please me. (Also, it tastes good.) Here's a fresh, classic, summery take, but since we can't stand waiting a whole year to eat it again, we've got a Winter Panzanella to keep you going.
My first exposure to using stale bread in recipes was when, as a child, my mother would cook stale cubes of bread on the stove with white sugar and butter until the sugar caramelized and the bread was slightly butter-soaked. It was a recipe that her mother made when there was nothing in the house for dessert and a sweet tooth struck. It was, and still is, one of the best things I've ever tasted, and is probably why I have such an affiinity for bread pudding: It takes an already incredible thing -- sugar and butter and stale bread -- and builds on it.
Tell us: what are your favorite things to make with stale bread?
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).