Who doesn’t wince at the thought of throwing out food that’s past its prime? Take bread for instance. It’s no longer fresh. It’s hard and dried out. Tossing it in the garbage does seem like the only thing to do.

But wait! Provided it hasn’t begun to grow mold, you really can turn leftover bread, rolls, or baguettes into something deliciously awesome.

Here’s the secret: Grilling, toasting, baking or frying gives bread a second yummy life. In fact, the following are all best when the bread is not fresh. Prepare to be amazed.

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French toast

In a bowl, beat together 2 eggs, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup milk. Soak 6 slices stale bread in the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Heat lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Place bread in pan and cook on both sides until golden. Serve with butter and syrup.

Croutons

Rub 4 slices of stale bread with a crushed clove of garlic. Cut bread into cubes, crouton-size. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add cubes and cook, stirring often, until crispy. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grilled sandwiches

Make it cheese or chocolate—either way you are in for a fab treat. For grilled chocolate, heat 1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk just until boiling. Remove from heat.

Add  3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, let stand for 1 minute then whisk until smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Spread butter on one side each of 8 slices of stale sandwich bread. Divide chocolate on the unbuttered side of 4 slices, leaving a small border and cover each with the remaining slices of bread. Cook sandwiches in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn, press with a spatula and cook until nicely browned and the chocolate is barely melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve warm.


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Crostini

Cut that hardened baguette into slices, oil each one with a generous amount of olive oil then toast. Spread each with Dijon-style mustard then top with whatever you have available like creamed kale, tomato slices, sliced meat. Top with cheese—Parmesan, Gruyere, Swiss. Slide under broiler to melt cheese as needed. Serve immediately.

Sweet spiced breadsticks

Preheat oven to 325 F. Cut any kind of flat bread (naan, pocketless pita, sourdough, or even the crusts you cut off the kids’ sandwiches) into strips about 3/4-by-4-inch.

In a medium bowl toss strips with 4 tablespoons melted butter. In a second bowl mix 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves and a pinch of salt. Toss buttered strips in sugar mixture.

Lay strips on a sheet pan and bake for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Let sticks cool slightly. Serve with jam.


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Avocado toast

Spread any kind of toasted bread with a touch of a schmear of mayonnaise followed by soft buttery avocado, a bit of lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Kick it up with these additions: sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro, sprouts, sliced olives—whatever you have on hand.

Bread pudding

Preheat oven to 350 F. Break 6 slices bread into small pieces and place in an 8-inch square baking pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons melted butter over bread. If desired, sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, 2 cups milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.

First published: 8-17-12; Revised & Updated 5-8-19

Question: What do you usually do with leftover, aka stale, bread?


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