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When I was growing up, my mom always kept a stash of stale bread destined to become breadcrumbs. It’s a thrifty way to make use of leftovers, and also not waste any of your grocery budgets. I always mean to do this, but the truth is I get impatient. To make breadcrumbs, the bread must be rid of all moisture. Depending on the temperature in your house, this could take weeks of waiting. You could speed the process up by baking the bread at a low temperature, essentially dehydrating it. Once I get to the point of turning on the oven, though, I want a bigger payoff.
What starts as a journey for homemade breadcrumbs eventually turns into croutons or crisps, like the recipe for these savory, cracker-like ones below. They’re perfect for topping with some creamy ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey, and they also lend some oomph to a charcuterie platter. If I manage to have any left, I give them a whirl in the food processor for seasoned homemade breadcrumbs, which brings my cooking endeavor full circle.
Herb and Olive Oil Crisps
Makes approximately 36 pieces
Last summer I made my own dried basil (it’s quite easy!) and have been enjoying it all winter long. When spring decides to stay for good and I have fresh herbs readily available, I’ll switch to using those in this recipe.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly grated zest of 1 tangerine, clementine or small orange
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
Day-old baguette, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Mix the oil, zest, basil and salt in a small bowl. Lightly brush both sides of each piece of bread with the oil mixture. Arrange them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until golden on both sides. Let cool slightly before serving. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Here are few of my Food Network favorites for making the most of your day-old bread: