All bread lovers—from avid bakers who are turning out beautiful loaves of sourdough on their own to people like myself who don’t have a functioning oven but will happily walk a few miles to pick up a bâtard from their favorite bakery—have experienced bread overflow issues at some point. Maybe you got excited and baked or bought one boule too many, or maybe there just aren’t enough bread-eaters in your household to take down an entire miche in two days.
My kitchen counter always has a half-finished loaf of bread taking up space on it. But I don’t look at having stale bread around as being a problem; I view it more as an opportunity, because it means I get to make anchovy croutons. These deeply savory croutons are made with just three ingredients—olive oil, anchovies, and the aforementioned leftover bread—and can be cooked to crunchy perfection either on the stovetop or in the oven.
I start by gently cooking anchovies in oil until they break down and dissolve, lending the olive oil salty, umami-rich depth of flavor. Then, I coat bread pieces with the oil and slowly toast them until crisp and golden brown. Once ready, you can toss the croutons into a Caesar or panzanella salad, snack on them throughout the day (how I usually end up eating most of a batch), or store them for later use in an airtight container.
Of course, the delicious stale bread cooking possibilities are endless—from Spanish migas and Italian ribollita to American Thanksgiving stuffing—but when you just need to use up some bread without having to plan, shop, and prepare a whole stand-alone dish, then making a batch of these croutons is your best bet for quick and easy flavor payoff. Homemade breadcrumbs are great and all, but we need snacks! And you can always chop up some croutons to make crumbs if you need some of those, too.