Homemade, seasoned breadcrumbs add crunch and flavour to everyday meal

Jesse Szewczyk

THE WASHINGTON POST – As 2020 continues to be unrelenting, I try my best to find the rare crumb of solace where I can. For me, that often starts in the kitchen.

Like many, I fell into the world of bread-baking, tending carefully to my sourdough starter and waxing poetic about my boules to my boyfriend.

But with just the two of us, it became hard to finish all the bread we were baking. So I started to make breadcrumbs. It was a hobby that started out of necessity, as a way to use up stale bread, but quickly turned into an activity I looked forward to for its meditative qualities. If you’ve never dipped your hands into a bowl of freshly processed breadcrumbs and felt their gritty, sandy texture before, you’re seriously missing out.

The recipe makes a large batch, so you can store them in your fridge and use them as-is, or quickly heat them in a dry pan to restore crispness. Once you make them, you might never go back to the boxed, seasoned variety again. Take your time, allow yourself to get lost in the process, and breathe some new life into your stale bread.

Lemony breadcrumbs with garlic and parmesan. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

LEMONY BREADCRUMBS WITH GARLIC AND PARMESAN

These fragrant, crunchy breadcrumbs are larger than most store-bought varieties and are flavoured with fresh garlic, parsley and lemon, with a touch of salt and pepper. Make a big batch so you have the crumbs handy to spoon generously over pasta, roasted vegetables or your favourite protein, such as chicken or fish fillets.

Storage Notes: Breadcrumbs can be refrigerated in an airtight container in the fridge for up to seven days. If the breadcrumbs become soggy, heat them in a dry nonstick skillet, stirring constantly, until crisp, three to four minutes.

INGREDIENTS

One-pound loaf sourdough bread, cut into one-inch cubes

Half cup extra-virgin olive oil

Five cloves garlic, finely minced

Half teaspoon red pepper flakes

One cup grated Parmesan cheese

Half cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Two tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

Half teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

One teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

DIRECTIONS

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Arrange the bread cubes on a large, rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through so they dry evenly, until the bread is crisp, fragrant and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Working in batches if needed, transfer the cooled bread to a food processor and pulse until the bread is ground into crumbs slightly coarser than panko. It’s okay if some large, irregular pieces remain.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, one to two minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and stir until the oil has been absorbed. Continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until the breadcrumbs are dark golden brown and crisp, eight to 10 minutes.

Transfer the breadcrumbs to a large bowl and let cool for about five minutes. Add the cheese and massage the bread crumbs with your hands so the cheese evenly coats the breadcrumbs and no large clumps remain.

Add the parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Nutrition – Calories: 104; Total Fat: 6g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 3mg; Sodium: 175mg; Total Carbohydrates: 10g; Dietary Fibre: 1g