This is one of my all-time favourite ways to use up leftover bread. I find keeping my bread in the refrigerator prevents mold a lot longer, but it also dries out faster. And any high-quality, preservative-free baguette or rustic boule is going to last a day or so anyway. So cube up your leftovers, and make this for a quick and delicious lunch.
– Any crusty bread you have that’s starting to go stale. I really like Tuscan pane.
– Any kind of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes also work great.
– Cheese. Mozzarella is beautiful, good feta in brine works fabulously too, but the sky’s the limit here. Use up whatever languishing scraps you have of your favourite kind.
– Fresh basil is ideal. Dried basil works fine in a pinch. Or you can sub any other fresh or dried herb you have on hand – thyme, oregano, dill, tarragon, rosemary, etc. Use what you have/what you like.
– Garlic powder
– Good olive oil.
– Optional add-ins: I put avocado in this time, because I had one that was long overdue to be eaten. You could add mixed greens, different vegetables, some very thinly sliced red onions, the sky’s the limit.
– Cube your bread with a serrated knife, and toss the cubes in a large mixing bowl with plenty of olive oil, a good dash of salt and pepper, and as much garlic powder as your palette – and social obligations for the day – will allow.
The rest of the prep will be done while these are cooking.
– Get a pan on high heat, and toss your bread cubes in. We’re essentially making garlic croutons here. Heck, you could substitute garlic croutons for the bread if you have some on hand. You could also substitute these bread cubes for croutons in your next salad if you cook them long enough.
– Dice your tomatoes (or halve them if using cherry tomatoes), and toss them with a small pinch of salt in the now-empty bread mixing bowl. The goal is to draw out the juices to act as an acidic element in the vinaigrette. Now go give the bread cubes a quick stir.
– Dice your cheese and other add-ins, taking care to stir the bread cubes well between each dicing session. Toss everything in with the tomatoes as it’s ready, and add your herbs and a good glug of olive oil in at the end.
– The bread cubes are ready when they’re the texture you like them. I leave them fairly chewy with just crisped and browned exteriors, but you can add a bunch more oil and go all the way to crunchy so they’re more crouton-like. When they’re done to your liking, toss them straight in with the rest of the salad in the bowl, and stir well. The crispy bread will absorb all the tomato juice and the flavors of the other ingredients.
My favourite tools:
All-Clad Anodized Nonstick Frying Pan Set
Hudson Essentials Olive Wood Cooking Utensils
Tramontina mixing bowl set
Lamson Offset Bread Knife
Lamson 3-piece knife set
J.K. Adams 17″ Maple Cutting Board