Monday 14 March 2011

Yum! Crumbs!

When I make sandwiches I cut from the center of the bread loaf, working my way back toward the crust.  I do this because I want to use the largest slices from the loaf for my sandwiches, ensuring that my portions are consistent.  I don’t use the smaller slices at either end of the loaf.   

Since I use only about three quarters of a loaf of bread to make sandwiches with, I’m left with the other quarter unused and—true to the nature of my Scottish forebears—I just can’t bear throw it away.

What does one do with left-over bread?  Lots of things, but in my kitchen the ends of the loaves are most often made into breadcrumbs.  I grind them in my food processor, put them in freezer bags and store them in the freezer until I have need of them. 

Breadcrumbs are handy things to have in the larder:  They can top a casserole or pasta dish, they can be used as breading on fried or oven baked meats, and they are an essential binder in meatloaf, and in many other recipes.   

I particularly like using my breadcrumbs to make Sicilian spaghetti.  It’s a quick, easy, inexpensive dish, and it’s very tasty.  To make it, cook a pound of spaghetti just as you usually would.  While the spaghetti is cooking, heat 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.  Open a 2 ounce can of anchovies and chop them fairly finely, then mince 3 cloves of garlic.  Add the anchovies and garlic to the hot oil and sauté them until the anchovies break down (about 2 minutes).  Remove the skillet from the heat.  Stir in a cup of breadcrumbs and a cup of chopped parsley.  Drain the pasta and toss it with the breadcrumb mixture.  Season it with salt and pepper to taste, and top the dish with grated Parmesan.

How easy is that?  And fabulous too.  Leftovers they may be, but breadcrumbs are also a wonderful means of adding flavour and texture to the even the simplest meal. 

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