My husband and I are not big bread eaters, but I seldom feel bad having extra bread because it makes the birds in our yard so happy. There are all kinds of bread though and some is just too good to throw out to our feathered friends. When we have good soft bread left over, I most often save it for bread crumbs because it doesn’t make good croutons. I simply freeze extra bread as time goes on and then place the frozen bread pieces in a coffee grinder and grind into crumbs when needed. You can then toast them at 350 degrees for 4-6 minutes. Grinding bread in your coffee grinder can also be a great way to clean your coffee grinder. The bread soaks up the odors of the coffee or spices that you ground earlier. So, use your first piece of bread to clean out the grinder and toss, and then save the rest.
When I have good hard crust bread, however, I use the leftovers for croutons. If I’m lucky, my friend Mary will reply to this blog and give her crouton secrets because her croutons are the very best. But, here is the basic idea:
Day old hard crust hardy bread (don’t bother trying this with wimpy sandwich bread)
Salt and pepper
Your favorite salt free spice mix – I like Penzey’s Sunny Paris
Cut bread into ½ inch squares. Place olive oil and spices in a bowl and mix. Toss in bread and coat well. Spread bread crumbs on cookie sheet and bake in oven at 300 degrees (about 30 minutes, stirring at least once).
You can store these croutons in an airtight container for at least a week and in the freezer even longer.
Bagels are also great to use as croutons, but they are so dense, you can simply slice them and toast without adding olive oil if you choose. I made these without oil and stored in the freezer from a selection of bagel flavors for fun salads.
And, one thing I promise about this blog is that this is not the last time I’ll talk about salads. Salads are one of the easiest ways to use up small amounts of various items left in the refrigerator (especially during the summer with lots of fresh veggies). I use left over green beans and potatoes to make Nicoise salad with olives and tuna. I use left over garbanzos to make Greek salad with peppers and Feta. What leftovers do you use to make great salads or salad throw ins?