Bread is another one of those usual suspect when it comes to foodwaste in my home. Which is a shame, when I think of it, because stale or even dry it is a wonderful way to be creative with it: panzanella (or other bread salads), bread soup, croutons, poor people’s parmesan are just a few things that come to mind when I take time to contemplate what to do with a piece of leftover bread. Sometimes I have a mental block because I initially bought the bread to make sandwiches or accompany a soup or salad. Once it goes stale or dry it has turned into something else and all I have to do is consider that transition and see it through a different lense.
Many people believe the only thing you can do with old bread is grinding it in a food processor to get bread crumbs. My brother seems to frequently let half loaves of baguette or other white bread go dry. My mum rescues those dry loaves of bread when she goes to see him and turns them into bread crumbs. However it has taken on extreme extents with my mum producing heaps of breadcrumbs that can only ever be used up if everyone in the family was breading and deep-frying their food every day. Maybe I should teach them something new…
One of my favourite ways to use stale bread is turn it into bread crackers or crispbread with cheese and seeds. Stale bread lends itself perfectly to this. A stale loaf of bread is easier to slice thinly. With a sharp knife I can easily make 2-3 mm slices, which is impossible to achieve with a fresh loaf. I’m not too worried if the slices are a bit uneven. It adds to it. I would challenge you to try it. It’s a quick and healthy snack for a night at home, watching a movie. You can create a dip to go with it (think guacamole or a herby cream cheese spread), but they are good to be enjoyed on their own. Here is a version I like to make with grated pecorino and different seeds, but just olive oil, salt and maybe a bit of smoked paprika turns them into a real competitor to regular crisps you get at the supermarket. I am not giving exact quantities here, because it all depends on how much bread you have left. I just like to make sure that I am not skimping on the cheese.
cheese and seed crispbread
leftover loaf of ciabatta, baguette or sourdough bread
pecorino or parmesan cheese, freshly grated
sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds (I like a mix of black and white)
pepper, freshly ground
Make sure the loaf is stale enough to slice thinly with a sharp knife. If it is still too crumbly it’s better to leave it for another day or two to get stale enough to slice into 2-3 mm slices. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Spread the bread slices on baking tray lined with baking parchment. You might need to do this in two or three batches, depending on how much bread you have leftover. Drizzle with oil, liberally scatter with the grated cheese, sprinkle with the seeds and finally the salt and pepper. Go easy on the salt if the cheese is quite salty. Toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden and the cheese has melted. Let cool a little and enjoy. Why not with a glass of wine?