Save Your Leftover Bread Ends For A Gooey Breakfast Strata

Bread is one of those delicious gifts that keeps on giving. Because whether you knead, proof, and bake a loaf with your own bare hands, or you simply buy one from your go-to bakery or grocery store, that doughy goodness can be not only salvaged but thoroughly enjoyed long after its peak freshness.

This is your friendly reminder to never throw away leftover bread ends or ditch old loaves because there are so many things you can do with stale bread. In many cases, a recipe actually specifically calls for or benefits from day-old, stale bread. Take the ooey, gooey, delicious breakfast strata, for instance.

So next time you've got some leftover, unwanted bread pieces lying around, don't think trash — think strata. You can transform the slightly stale bread into a delectable breakfast dish by essentially rehydrating it with milk and eggs and baking everything into a fluffy, melty creation.

What is a strata?

A strata is basically a breakfast casserole or savory bread pudding — typically made by soaking stale bread in a mixture of egg and milk, and then baking the dish. Usually assembled a day ahead or the night before, the bread is given time to absorb the egg mixture, which results in a meal with a souffle-like texture that's similar to bread pudding.

Whether you make a bacon, sausage, spinach, and mushroom version — or a succulent ham and cheese strata, these overnight breakfast casseroles are easy to make and can include all sorts of additional ingredients and flavors, whether savory or sweet.

What separates stratas from other baked egg dishes like frittatas and quiches is the way the ingredients are assembled and cooked. When making a strata, the bread base and any additional ingredients are layered on top of each other, and then everything is covered in the egg mixture and baked in the oven all at once.

More ways to repurpose stale bread

Need some more reasons not to throw away that leftover bread? Breakfast stratas are one of a myriad of delicious dishes you can make with stale bread as the humble main ingredient.

For an easy, obvious way to repurpose that old bread, you can always chop it up, toss it with some olive oil and seasonings, and bake it into crispy croutons. And because day-old bread is so good at soaking up liquid, it's the optimal choice for dishes like French toast and panzanella salad.

If you want to make something a little more outside the box, stale bread is an unusual secret weapon for rich brownies; you can essentially use it as a substitute for flour by blending it up into a chocolatey batter. And stale bread also shines in various types of Italian bread soups, like ribollita and pappa al pomodoro, which use old bread to create a simple yet hearty comfort meal.