I have something of a reputation for accepting—nay, wanting—food items my neighbors would otherwise throw away or not know what to do with. Bruised apples, overripe plums, beet and turnip greens, monster zucchini that have grown too big to cook the normal way—these things all somehow find their way to my doorstep. This thrills me to no end because they mean apple butter, plum jam, messes o’greens in the Southern fashion as well as some interesting challenges (just how do you cook a zucchini that’s gotten to be the size of a butternut squash?)
Stale bread is another item that finds its way to me and I’m glad to have it, so long as it’s not TOO stale. Thinly sliced, an old baguette makes the most delicious toasts or bruschetta bases. All I have to do is brush the slices with oil or butter, bake until toasted, and store until ready to use. When I’ve got the time and am feeling fancy, though, I give ‘em the gourmet treatment. That means a combo of butter and oil with some garlic steeped in it and a sprinkling of fleur de sel. These toasts are so tasty you have to watch out; it’s very easy to nibble away at them while they’re cooling until they’re all gone.
Garlic Bruschetta Toasts
These crisp toasts will keep for weeks in an airtight container and can be used for dips, cheese, spreads, and even salad croutons when you break them into chunks. You can also make them with fresh bread slices; they’ll still be cheaper and better than any prepared toast or cracker you could buy.
¼ cup (50 ml) olive oil
¼ cup (2 Tbs/50 g.) butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stale baguette, cut into 3/8-inch thick slices
fleur de sel, kosher salt or other medium-coarse grain salt, optional
Preheat oven to 300˚F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread bread slices on prepared baking sheets
Bring olive oil, butter, and garlic to a low simmer in small saucepan over low heat. Simmer 5 minutes, or until garlic begins to turn a golden brown. Strain oil-butter mixture into heatproof jar, and reserve garlic slices. (They’re crunchy and delicious!)
Brush both sides of bread slices with garlic butter/oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until bread slices are pale brown. Cool, and store in an airtight container. Makes about 50 toasts.