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New life for stale bread!

(Circular economy in the kitchen!)

All over the world there are rich and poorer cuisines, but nowhere is the latter more loved than in Italy. It used to be all about turning leftovers into something satisfying. Today, even top chefs like Massimo Bottura talk about using the tricks of "cucina povera" (poor cuisine) to avoid waste.


The owner of a Roman rosticceria (meaning "roastery," a simple eatery where, for example, the fabulous "porchetta", rolled roast pork comes from) once said to me in broadest Roman:

"With langoustines and fillets, any cretino (dork) can make a great dish. But the real art is to create something outstanding with simple, cheap ingredients!"


One ingredient you almost always have at home is bread, and let's face it, it often gets hard and inedible faster than you'd like. Here's what I think is the best way to breathe new life into stale bread, Tuscan style:

The Panzanella.

Now cover the bowl and put it in the fridge, this can be for an hour but I have also let it infuse overnight without loss of quality.

Take it out of the fridge half an hour before eating, add a generous amount of fresh basil, roughly plucked, and season again with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Ecco fatto, a wonderful summer starter, but also filling enough to suffice as a summer lunch, along with a small dessert, especially on hotter days.


But there are no limits to your creativity, you can add olives, pieces of peppers or fennel, anchovies, tuna or cheese in cubes - and then call the whole thing "Panzanella alla Claudio", or alla Tom, Dick or Harry!


Accompanied by a cold white wine or rosé, enjoy!