Making use of stale bread is easy—people have been developing ways to do this for centuries—but it can get a little boring if all that occurs to you is bread pudding or French toast. If you have a food processor, one of the easiest things to do is make bread crumbs.

While the bread is still only slightly stale, tear or cut it into pieces about the size of an apricot or (if it’s sliced) a piece of beef jerky. Keep it on the counter in a paper bag for few more days until it’s completely dry, then whirl up the pieces in a food processor until they’re no larger than one-quarter inch; some might be as small as a grain of sand. If you don’t have a food processor, place the bread in a plastic bag and crush it with a rolling pin; the crumbs will be a little more coarse but still usable interchangeably in recipes. Freeze these crumbs in labeled freezer bags where they will keep seemingly forever and use in recipes like cassoulet or meatballs, or sprinkle them on soups or salads in place of croutons.

This old-fashioned baked dessert uses up a lot of bread crumbs, but it’s fine to mix and match types of bread. You can even use sweet breads, like cinnamon raisin or Hawaiian, to make these crumbs. For the fruit, this is an anything-goes sort of recipe, like crisp or trifle. Whatever you choose, core, pit, and peel it and dice it into bite-sized pieces. If you’re using frozen fruit, don’t thaw it before baking.
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The inspiration for this dish comes via Sicily, where something similar was traditionally made for San Giuseppe’s Day; the crumbs are meant to represent sawdust from the ancient carpenter’s workshop. While cooking with sawdust seems almost too appropriate when talking about food waste, the seasoned, buttertoasted bread crumbs bear only the vaguest visual resemblance to wood shavings. You can customize this dish easily to taste using different cheeses or green vegetables. Roasted leftover asparagus or broccolini are excellent choices. If you like anchovies, add one with the garlic and red pepper flakes.
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