Ingenious Italian Uses for Day-Old Bread

How to transform stale bread into delicious Italian dishes.

A lot of Italian cuisine is based in frugality: using up everything and wasting nothing. Particularly in Tuscany, where traditional Tuscan bread, made without any salt, tends to harden and go stale very quickly, there are numerous recipes that are designed to use up that hardened bread. 

So next time you find yourself with bread that's too hard to eat, don't despair! There's no need to throw it out and waste perfectly good food, and you can make something far more interesting and...MORE satisfying than just croutons with it.

Here are seven different ideas for delicious Italian dishes that transform stale, hard bread into something delicious.

[Edited by Danette St. Onge]

  • 01 of 03
    Tuscan Ribollita soup (Florentine soup) made with lacinato kale, cannellini beans, Tuscan bread, and olive oil.
    Tuscan Ribollita soup (Florentine soup) made with lacinato kale, cannellini beans, Tuscan bread, and olive oil. Nico Tondini/Getty Images

    This bean, kale, and bread soup is one of the most classic Tuscan winter dishes, and it's well worth letting a loaf of bread go stale to make it. Or even two, because people will ask for more. Also, it gets better with time.

  • 02 of 03
    Acquacotta, A Traditional Tuscan Vegetable Soup
    Acquacotta, A Traditional Tuscan Vegetable Soup. Danette St. Onge

    Hailing from the coastal Tuscan region of Maremma, this quick and simple, yet rich and satisfying soup, is made with whatever vegetables are available (generally onions and Tuscan kale), plus tomatoes and stale slices of bread, which are rubbed with garlic and placed in the bottom of each bowl to soften in the broth.

  • 03 of 03
    Panzanella, Prepared by Simone Ciattini of the Trattoria La Baracchina
    Panzanella, Prepared by Simone Ciattini of the Trattoria La Baracchina. © Kyle Phillips, licensed to About.Com

    An extraordinarily refreshing bread salad that's perfect on a hot summer day; it makes for great picnic food, too. Quite versatile, and it can be made a day ahead.