Some people consider the ends of a loaf of bread to be the best parts. My family, though, prefers the middle slices. Daniel often will eat the heel that is at the top of the bag, but by the time we get to the bottom of the bag, the other heel is less appealing. (This is despite our policy of keeping the bread in the refrigerator most of the time. That prevents mold, but the last bit of the bread does get very slightly damp so that it isn’t so appealing, especially if a fresh loaf is available.)
We go through at least a loaf of bread a week, thanks to our seven-year-old’s fondness for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so every few months I notice that there are a lot of bread bags with one heel in each one, lying around in the back of the refrigerator. What to do with all of them?
Cheesy Vegetable Bread Pudding!
This versatile recipe is an easy and relatively cheap way to make a filling, high-protein casserole that, at least in our family, gets a kid to eat some vegetables. It’s another way to use up random odds and ends of vegetables, fresh or frozen. It pairs well with salad for even more vegetables! Bread can be stale or frozen-and-thawed for this recipe, just not moldy. You can use any type of bread (except sweet kinds like raisin bread) and mix different types if you like.
The first step is to cut all your bread heels into squares of about 1 inch. Put the squares into a measuring cup and shake to settle them, but don’t smush them down. You may be surprised at the large volume of squares you get from what looked like just a few slices of bread.
For each cup of bread squares, you will need:
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup chopped or shredded vegetables (You can use frozen vegetables, as long as they are thawed enough to mix with the other ingredients instead of being in a clump.)
- 2 tsp. herbs (parsley, dill, rosemary, oregano, basil, tarragon, thyme, sage, marjoram–whichever you have)
- salt and pepper to taste (Try white pepper for a more gourmet flavor.)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced onion (optional)
If using onion, cook it in olive oil until lightly browned, and add it to the milk.
Mix herbs, salt, and pepper into milk, taste it, and adjust seasoning as desired.
Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until well-mixed and slightly fluffy. Mix in at least some of the milk; it helps to distribute the egg in the pudding so that you get a custardy texture instead of wet bread sprinkled with cooked egg.
Grease a casserole dish or baking pan that is large enough to hold everything. (If you don’t have a big enough pan, use two!) Place bread and vegetables in the dish and mix with your hands. Pour in egg and milk, distributing it as evenly as you can. Sprinkle cheese on the top.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, until you no longer see pockets of liquid.
If that’s too much work for you, or you don’t eat dairy products, here are three other things to do with bread heels or stale bread:
Toast all the bread slices. Use a food processor or blender to pulverize them. Pack portions of 1 or 2 cups into individual freezer bags and freeze until you are making a recipe that calls for bread crumbs. UPDATE: See our detailed photo tutorial on making bread crumbs!
Follow these helpful instructions.
Sweet Bread Pudding
Combine milk, eggs, and bread as in the recipe above, but season the milk with maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Instead of vegetables, use whatever fresh or dried fruit you have handy (but not cantaloupe!!), or make a plain bread pudding and serve with a fruit sauce made from your random fruit.
Turning the sad collection of bread heels into tasty food works for me! Visit the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop for more delicious recipes and Frugal Food Thursdays and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways for more money-saving ideas! I’m also linking to Waste Not Want Not Wednesday although it’s on a gluten-free site, because if you have gone to the trouble of making gluten-free bread or the expense of buying it, you surely won’t want to waste a bit of it!