Ingenious Italian Uses for Day-Old Bread

How to transform stale bread into delicious Italian dishes

A lot of Italian cuisines 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 satisfying than just croutons with it.

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

[Edited by Danette St. Onge]

  • 01 of 03

    Ribollita

    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, ribollita gets better with time.

  • 02 of 03

    Tuscan Vegetable Soup (Acquacotta maremmana)

    Acquacotta, a traditional tuscan vegetable soup

    The Spruce / Danette St. Onge

    Hailing from the coastal Tuscan region of Maremma, this quick and simple Tuscan vegetable soup is a rich and satisfying soup, 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: Tuscan Bread Salad

    Panzanella, prepared by Simone Ciattini of the Trattoria La Baracchina

    The Spruce / Kyle Phillips

    A panzanella is 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.