Got a fabulous loaf of bread that’s just a smidge past its prime? It’s heartbreaking to consider throwing away day-old bread (even several-days-old bread), especially when the whole-grain varieties boast loads of B vitamins and fiber. Happily, there’s salvation for that scrumptious loaf of goodness. Whether you have crumbs, cubes or slices, check out these 15 uses.
Crumbs: With or without the crust, toasted or not toasted, process slices in a food processor until finely ground.
1. Crust for Chicken and Fish: Blend with dried herbs and spices (oregano, thyme, tarragon, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika) and press into skinless chicken breasts and thighs or fish fillets before baking or pan-searing in olive oil.
2. Stuffed Artichokes: Blend with equal parts grated Parmesan cheese; season with a little finely grated lemon zest; stuff into the leaves of steamed artichokes; drizzle with olive oil; bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
3. Stuffed Portobello Caps: Stem and clean whole Portobello mushroom caps; combine equal parts crumbs and grated gouda or smoked gouda cheese; spoon into mushroom caps; bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until mushrooms soften.
4. Mussels and Clams: Toast in a dry pan with a little minced dried onion, garlic powder and dried oregano; remove from heat and add a little chopped fresh parsley; sprinkle over steamed mussels and clams (and the broth they were steamed in).
5. Meatballs and Meatloaf: Add 1/2 cup crumbs per pound of ground meat; add dried herbs and spices as desired (oregano, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin).
6. Pasta Topping: Blend with equal parts grated Parmesan cheese; season with a little dried oregano; toast in a dry pan until golden brown; sprinkle over finished pasta dishes.
7. Chilis and Soups: Blend with equal parts finely shredded pepper Jack cheese; sprinkle over chilis and soups just before serving.
8. Baked Pastas and Risottos: Combine with equal parts grated mozzarella cheese; sprinkle over pasta casseroles before baking and over risottos before serving.
Cubes: With or without the crust, cut into cubes.
9. Nutty Vegetable Topping: Drizzle with olive oil; arrange on a baking sheet with equal parts blanched almonds or pine nuts; bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown; transfer to a food processor and process until the nuts are coarsely ground; sprinkle over grilled, roasted and/or steamed vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, corn, yellow squash, zucchini, and winter squash (acorn, butternut and spaghetti).
10. Croutons: Drizzle with olive oil; season with onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, oregano, thyme, salt, and black pepper; bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown; sprinkle over salads and soups.
11. Panzanella: Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and black pepper; bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown; transfer to a large bowl; stir in diced fresh tomatoes, cubed mozzarella cheese and chopped fresh basil; add balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Slices: With or without crust, sliced to desired thickness.
12. Sweet Bruschetta: Arrrange slices on baking sheet; bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown; top with all-fruit preserves (such as raspberry, strawberry and apricot); top with fresh fruit (such as raspberries, strawberries and diced apricots).
13. Savory Bruschetta: Arrrange slices on baking sheet; bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown; brush with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper; top with diced fresh tomato, white onion, black olives and fresh basil.
14. “Crackers”: Arrange thin slices on baking sheet; bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown; top with desired toppings, such as spreadable cheese, cottage cheese, humuus, pesto, tapenade and smoked salmon.
15. Panini: Use thin slices in your favorite pressed sandwich recipes.
Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.