In With The Old: Stale Bread Recipes!

By on Monday, 8th August 2011

The phrase “waste not, want not” has particular meaning during current economic times. But Italians have used that philosophy for years — in the kitchen.

Lidia Bastianich, author of “Lidia?s Italy” and host of the PBS show by the same name, believes nothing should go to waste in the kitchen.

And Wednesday, she visited The Early Show with some of her favorite ways to put stale bread to use in soups, salads and desserts.

RECIPES

PANZANELLA
Bread and Tomato Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 pound two-day-old country-style bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 pounds ripe tomatoes at room temperature, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 cup diced red onion
12 fresh basil leaves, shredded
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:
In a large bowl, toss bread, tomatoes, onion and shredded basil leaves until well mixed. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the salad and toss to mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Decorate with sprigs of fresh basil.

PAPPA AL POMODORO
Tomato-Based Tuscany Bread Soup

For this dish, the ripeness and flavor of the tomatoes is imperative. Therefore, make the soup when the tomatoes are abundant and ripe and at their best-in late summer.

This “zuppa” is delicious warm or served at room temperature on a hot summer day.

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:
Five 1/2-inch slices Italian bread, crusts removed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the finished zuppa
1/2 cup finely diced onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juice reserved
4 cups Chicken Stock
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves

Method:
Heat the oven to 375¡ã F. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and cool the bread.
In a deep, heavy 4- to 5-quart pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch dice.

Add the tomatoes and their juice to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted bread and stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the basil leaves and adjust the level of heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, whisking occasionally to break up the pieces of bread, until the mixture is dense and silky, about 40 minutes.

If desired, remove garlic cloves and basil leaves. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

CHOCOLATE BREAD PARFAIT
Layers of chocolate and bread for a quick and simple dessert.

Ingredients:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Recommended equipment:
A large rimmed tray or baking sheet, such as a half-sheet pan (12 by 18 inches);
a spouted measuring cup, 1 pint or larger;
6 parfait glasses or wineglasses, preferably balloon-shaped

Method:
Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat. Slice the bread into a half-inch- thick slices, and lay them flat in one layer, close together, on the tray or baking sheet. Pour the warm espresso into a spouted measuring cup, stir in the rum and sugar until sugar dissolves, then stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then flip them over and turn them on the tray, to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.

To assemble the parfaits: Break the bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in the six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolatey bread into each. Scrape up some of the unabsorbed chocolate sauce that remains on the baking sheet, and drizzle a bit over the bread layers. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts. Repeat the layering sequence: drop more soaked bread into each glass, drizzle over it the chocolate sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait. This dessert is best when served immediately while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny.

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