If you travel around the Mediterranean you will find bakery around almost every street corner. Fresh bread is a must for every meal but that does not mean that the old bread is wasted. People around the Mediterranean came out with ingenious ways to make use of their old and even almost stale bread. In Italy old bread are used to thicken soups or salads, in Spain old bread is used as bread crumbs and in the eastern Mediterranean dry and hard pita is used as chips for salads or in main dishes with meat and tahini sauce called Fatat.
My favorite way to use old French or Italian bread is the Italian soup ribollita. It is an excellent dish to use all the vegetable you have sitting in your refrigertor.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 6-ounce tomato paste
1 14-ounce can cooked cannellini beans, drained
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, diced
3 cups chopped Swiss chard or kale
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon basil
salt to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
6 cups cut dry French or Italian bread
-In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, the carrots and the celery. Stir and cook for over slow heat for 5 minutes.
-Add the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and then add the sage, the basil and the salt.
-Drop the potatoes and continue to boil for another 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and bring back to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
-Add the beans and the cheese, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
-Drop the bread, stir gently and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.