6 Globe-Trotting Ways Stale Bread Can Inspire Your Office Lunches

Posted by on Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 with 4 Comments

Stuck in a rut when it comes to your office lunches? Sometimes inspiration can strike from the most unlikely places – and today, that place is stale bread.

Yes, stale bread! It may sound like a problem, not inspiration, but that’s because most of us don’t think like peasants. For generations, home cooks have looked at a half-loaf of stale bread and found ways to create delicious, rustic meals. They were inspired – albeit by necessity, rather than boredom.

panzanella bread salad for office lunches

Panzanella is the classic day-old bread dish!
Image source: Flickr user alanagkelly

In any case, nearly every cuisine has a dish that’s been built around using up leftover bread, rice, tortillas – whatever the staple grain in that culture may be. And we challenge you: next time you order in office lunches or food delivery from a favorite restaurant, take a moment to consider the history of the cuisine you’re enjoying and order one of the following dishes. After all, connecting in a more meaningful way with your food – even if it comes in a takeout box – is a great way to practice mindful eating!


Chilaquiles are a Mexican dish that makes use of leftover corn tortillas: they’re fried until crisp, and then cooked with salsa and topped with cheese. Leftover chicken? Toss it in! Making chilaquiles for breakfast? Top with a runny egg. In any case, chilaquiles are known as being far superior to nachos and just as crave-worthy. Next time you order Mexican, give chilaquiles a chance.


Nobody makes better use of leftover bread than the Italians. Pappa al pomodoro is an Italian soup of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, and stale bread – simple and classic and utterly delicious. Panzanella is a salad with stale bread, tomatoes, basil, peppers, red onions, and olive oil. Ribollita is an extremely hearty Tuscan stew made from leftover bread, cannellini beans, and veggies like carrots, cabbage, beets, and onions. Try a new twist on a soup-and-salad lunch next time Italian is on the takeout menu.

Middle Eastern

Fattoush is a Lebansese salad of dry, leftover pita – toasted or occasionally fried – topped with a refreshing mixture of chunky vegetables. Tomatoes and cucumbers are the mainstays, but some versions of fattoush will include scallions, radishes, and greens as well. The dressing, flavored with garlic, lemon, olive oil, and sumac, is what makes this salad really special, and worth a try from your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant.


Dakos is a cross between bread salad and bruschetta. Leftover slices of stale bread are coated lightly with olive oil, grilled, and topped with a viniagarette-dressed mixture of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, basil, kalamata olives, and feta. Break out of the gyros rut (granted, a delicious rut) and try this as your next Greek side dish. 


Day-old inerja, the high-protein bread eaten at most Ethiopian meals, is the star of a salad called timatim fitfit. Tomatoes, chili peppers, and onion are mixed with torn-up chunks of slightly stale inerja, and dressed in a simple, lemony vinaigrette. The resulting salad is little mushy, but the inerja absorbs a great deal of flavor.


Gazpacho, the classic chilled soup, has chunks of stale bread to thank for its beautiful texture. The Spanish also make migas, a simple dish of leftover bread, olive oil, and garlic – once a humble staple of the shepherd’s diet, migas are now served at all kinds of tapas restaurants, often with chorizo or sardines mixed in.

Italian, Mexican, Greek, Ethiopian – and we didn’t even get into the wide world of Asian fried rice dishes! Whatever cuisine you order for office lunches, be inspired by the creative culinary history and try something new. And no matter what kind of food you’re looking for, the chances are excellent that Waiter.com can help you find the right dish, delivered right to your door!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

4 responses to “6 Globe-Trotting Ways Stale Bread Can Inspire Your Office Lunches”

  1. This is really great information. We always have left over bread that goes stale, and now I won’t have to feel guilty just throwing it out.

  2. Anita says:

    I would have never ever thought of this. I’ve been throwing away bread for as long as I can remember. It looks like Gazpacho is going to be for lunch tomorrow.

  3. Jameson says:

    Utilizing unremarkable and under-utilized products needs to become more main-stream. I think that catering solutions like these are great ideas to help us reduce the overall global food-waste epidemic that we face as a nation. By being conscious of what we consume and utilizing things that are often discarded, we not only lower prices, but also lower our expenses. I know it might be a hard-sell, but it is worth it in the long run!

    • Sara says:

      Thanks Jameson – your word “epidemic” is so right on to describe the state of food waste today, especially in the U.S. We could learn a lot from a few generations past about being more mindful and responsible with our food supply!