Actually, sliced bread -- ready and waiting in your pantry freezer -- is the greatest thing.
Sliced bread came onto the market in the 1930s, when Continental Baking, which had bought the Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis, began to sell Taggart's signature product, Wonder Bread, in a pre-sliced loaf. "Heresy!" cried millions of home bakers, but over time convenience won out, and Wonder Bread became the first of many pre-sliced breads on the market.
Now that Ted and I, long-time city dwellers, have moved to a rural community, we have made some changes in how we shop for food. We need to be more deliberate and plan ahead, as the nearest market is 5 miles away, and the nearest farmers' market closer to 10 miles up the road.
One of the tricks I've learned is to keep good-quality sliced wheat or white bread in my freezer. When I have a leftover whole or partial loaf of artisanal bread, I'll often slice it before freezing. Then, when I need a bit of bread for fresh bread crumbs, I can extract just as much as I need without having to defrost an entire loaf. For an egg salad or turkey sandwich, or French toast or stuffing, or a beautiful bread pudding made with farm stand tomatoes, I defrost only what the recipe requires, and leave the rest for another treat on another day.
What's your favorite thing to make with sliced bread?
As Julia Child would have said, proportions are not terribly important in this recipe. The best time to make this is during tomato season, which here in Rhode Island is right now. This isn't a completely traditional gazpacho, but it is a delicious version. Top with cold poached shrimp or chunks of avocado (or both) if you wish, for a hearty main course soup. Serves 8-10.
2 slices white or wheat bread (any size, any type)
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 English (seedless) cucumber, roughly chopped (do not peel)
6-8 large tomatoes, cut in half, seeded, roughly chopped
24 oz V-8 juice, or more to achieve desired consistency (depends on how juicy your tomatoes are)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Hot sauce, to taste
Coarse sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Place bread and garlic in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Empty into a very large (nonreactive) bowl.
In a small frying pan, sauté red onion with olive oil for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add onion to the food processor along with as many of the bell pepper pieces as will fit. Pulse until finely chopped, and add to the bowl with the bread crumbs. Process remaining bell peppers with the cucumber, and add to the bowl. Process the tomatoes until finely chopped, and add to the bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients, and adjust seasoning to taste. Remove half of the mixture and return it to the food processor, and pulse until almost, but not totally, liquid (or use an immersion blender right in the mixing bowl). Add this back into the bowl, and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow flavors to marry. Serve cold.
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