When you have bread left over make our nutty breadcrumbs which you can toss through pasta, use to top a macaroni cheese and sprinkle over vegetables. You can also use panko if you don’t want to use leftover bread. It’s an economical way of making a dish more substantial and adding texture using some food that would otherwise be thrown out. It’s the food equivalent of recycling!
120g breadcrumbs or panko
3 tablespooons nut oil (walnut, hazelnut or sesame)
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan – 200C – 400F – Gas 6.
2. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a baking tray. Toss with the salt. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until golden. Toss with the oil.
– Add a ½ teaspoon dried oregano, mixed herbs or a mixture of thyme and sage to the breadcrumbs before baking. This is especially good for topping any baked potato or pasta pie. Add a pinch of dried chilli to make it spicy.
– For Italian pasta dishes, what is especially good is to toss the cooked breadcrumbs with a handful of grated hard Italian cheese such as Parmesan or Grana Padano or Pecorino. Toss the cheesy toasted breadcrumbs through cooked spaghetti, add some crushed walnuts, finely chopped tomato and freshly chopped basil and you have a dinner dish. Drizzle some more olive oil over the finished dish.
– Freeze any extra breadcrumbs – no need to defrost them when you are using them to top baked dishes, they will cook in the oven.
– Don’t chill the breadcrumbs or store them in the fridge or they will go mouldy. Freeze them instead. )Treat them just like bread – you wouldn’t put in the fridge!
– Use plain olive oil rather than nut oil if you don’t have any.
– Nut oils (that is any oil extracted from a nut) go rancid easily. Always buy them in a dark light-proof bottle and keep it in the fridge where it will keep for months. Don’t save it for a special cooking moment because by the time you use it it could be gone off! The discount supermarkets now have walnut and other nut oils and they are cheaper than the ones you find in posh delis – they are perfect for this recipe.
We’ve suggested using panko instead of breadcrumbs in the recipe above. Panko are ready-made dried breadcrumbs that are used in Japanese cooking. They are readily available in supermarkets and are incredibly useful to keep in your store cupboard. They last a long time if you don’t open the packet (check the date when you buy them) so you have breadcrumbs on hand when you need them. Any panko breadcrumbs left in the bag after you open it can be frozen. They are crisper than the soft breadcrumbs that you make from day-old-bread so they give you a better finish when you are making gougons for example (see recipe below).
TO MAKE QUICK CHICKEN OR GOUGONS AT HOME
Serves 4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 Fan/200C/400F. Cut 3 chicken breasts into thin strips and season lightly. Take three plates. On one sprinkle some flour (plain or self-raising) which you have seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and add a ½ teaspoon of dried mixed herbs or Herbes de Provence if you have it. On the second plate, place 1 beaten egg. Pour panko breadcrumbs on the third plate. Dip the chicken strips into the flour, then the beaten egg, then the panko breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled baking dish. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up. Bake until golden – about 10 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through by cutting into one gougon with a sharp knife.
TO MAKE FISH GOUGONS: Replace the chicken in the recipe above with thin strips of boneless fish, plaice or cod for example.
MORE RECIPES FROM THE GREATFOOD ITALIAN KITCHEN
Bruschette al Formaggio Robiola
Tomato, Fennel, Spring Onion and Parmesan Crostata
Penne with Sausage and Chilli
Recipes from an Italian Butcher: Sautéed Radicchio
Penne with Pachino Tomato and Anchovy Sauce
What is Guanciale and how do I cook with it?
How to Buy Good Quality Tinned Tomatoes
How to cook with Fregola or Fregula
Diana Henry Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi
Tortellini and Vegetable Soup
Tagliatelle with Lamb’s Lettuce, Walnut and Mint Pesto
Blackberries in Cassis with Goat’s Cheese
How to cook with pancetta
Orzo with Chicken, Peas, Parmesan and Mint
Proscuitto di San Danielle with Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Bacon and Pasta Soup