Hack Your End Bread Slices Into Easy Homemade Pizza

Every time you buy a regular loaf of bread, you already know you are going to have some food waste. Named the "heel," the pieces at either end of the loaf are basically mostly crust, leaving it not particularly appetizing and mostly useless for a sandwich. As a result, these end pieces usually end up in the trash — although they do serve the purpose of protecting the inside of the loaf from drying out.

However, since the heel is entirely covered with crust on one side, it can actually become the crust for an impromptu snack-sized open-faced pizza sandwich. Sturdier than a regular slice of bread, the heel can withstand the weight and moisture of sauce and toppings, making it an ideal platform for a quick meal using some basic ingredients and a toaster oven or a broiler. The result is a savory, crispy, and cheesy treat — as long as you don't tell your Italian friends and family about it.

Making pizza out of toast

To make pizza on sliced bread, you need the thick end pieces of a rectangular sandwich loaf. Give it a quick toast in the toaster oven or the broiler, bread side up, so the "crust" is lightly toasted and slightly moisture resistant. Spread a thin layer of basic tomato sauce on top of the bread, and add whatever toppings you want on top of the sauce. Viable options include cold cuts, leftover chicken and steak, and vegetable odds and ends.

Cover the entire "pizza" with a thick layer of shredded mozzarella cheese or other mild, melty cheeses. Season the top with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and dried herbs such as basil and oregano. Place it on a heat-resistant sheet pan under a broiler on high, and don't forget to leave a gap in order to vent out any moisture. Steam will only make the bread soggy, after all. Once the cheese starts to brown and sizzle, the bread heel pizza is ready to consume. Serve with a side of warmed-up marinara sauce and grated parmesan cheese for additional flavor.

Other uses for bread heels

Aside from using the bread heel to make a toaster oven pizza, these unwanted pieces of bread can serve other purposes. For example, instead of going to the market to get seasoned bread crumbs every time you want to make chicken parm, you can use bread heels to create breadcrumbs of your own. Store the end pieces of any bread you purchase in the freezer until you have a good amount, then bake them in a low-heat oven until the bread is completely dry. Break the bread into large chunks and then throw them into the bowl of a food processor to pulse until a coarse crumb forms. Store in an airtight container, and you now have homemade breadcrumbs for any recipe.

Another way to use the end piece of bread is to pair it with juicy tomatoes (or watermelon) and make a panzanella. Warm up the bread heels a little until they are slightly hardened, then break them up into bite-sized pieces. Cut up tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet peppers, and toss it all into a large bowl. Throw in all of your bread and mix it with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and shredded basil leaves. Let the salad sit for at least an hour, so the bread will absorb the vegetable juices and dressing before serving.