Why not talk about simple pleasures? Like how to make really tasty gluten-free bread crumbs. Golden. Toasty. Slightly crunchy. When I first went gluten-free I missed the crunchy goodness that a buttered bread crumb topping adds to a home cooked recipe- especially comfort food. In fact, one of my favorite simple comfort recipes when I'm dragging my butt and too tired to cook is spaghetti tossed in extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes and pan toasted bread crumbs.
So, after I found a decent (even wonderful) gluten-free pasta (Tinkyada Pasta) I tried making herbed crumbs for several of my favorite comfort foods, including my go-to Italian spaghetti with garlic and crumbs recipe.
In the green and groovy spirit of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, I first tried using failed gluten-free breads (you know, those sawdust textured doorstops that plunk out of the brand new replacement bread pan and land on the counter with a distinct gluten-free thud). The crumbs were either too gritty or too gummy- just like the bread. They had absolutely no character.
Then I tried a ridiculously expensive bag of store-bought rice based crumbs, but the texture was sandy beachy; and to this gluten-free goddess at large, the crumbs practically screamed "I am gluten-free".
Ah, but then one fortuitous day I felt a little nutty and inspired.
I reached into the freezer for some frozen gluten-free waffles, and thought, Hello! I toasted the icy suckers to a crispy golden brown, zapped them into crumbs in the Cuisinart, added dried Italian style herbs, sea salt and a drizzle of fruity olive oil and- yes!
Fabulous gluten-free bread crumbs.
The crumbs pictured above are actually gluten-free waffle crumbs, and they are our favorite gluten-free crumb topping. And no, the crumbs are not sweet (as a Dear Reader asked). But they are perfectly toasty golden and crunchy. Trust me.
How to Make Toasty Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
These easy to make gluten-free crumbs are a delicious topping for baked casseroles, simple pastas, and tender crisp vegetables tossed in olive oil and garlic.
What I do::
I toast 2 or 3 gluten-free plain waffles (this is my recipe for Savory Gluten-Free Waffles)
and break them apart; then I process them in my Cuisinart food processor, pulsing on and off until they resemble classic breadcrumbs (not too fine).
I add in several dashes of dried Italian herb mix, or a simple combo of dried basil, parsley and marjoram.
I drizzle in some high quality extra virgin olive oil as I pulse - just until they are moist and begin to stick together a bit.
To make a classic pan-fried crumb topping, I pour a tablespoon or so of good olive oil in a medium- not too hot- skillet and toss in the processed waffle crumbs. I add dried Italian herbs to taste and stir, shake the pan and brown them for a minute, then add the crumbs to the recipe.
To add these crumbs to recipes such as my vegan Garden Loaf or Karina's Maple-Apricot Glazed Meatloaf or these yummy gluten-free Italian Meatballs, proceed as directed but leave out the olive oil. You can also use these dry crumbs in gluten-free salmon burgers, tuna and crab cakes.
For convenience you can use packaged frozen gluten-free waffles for crumbs- they work fine. Or make your own sugar-free waffles ahead of time and freeze a bunch. I keep a bag of extra waffles in the freezer just for this purpose.
Not exactly earth shattering business, I know. It's not even a true recipe, Darling. But it's one of those pre-gluten-free pleasures I thought was gone forever. And I'm happy to say, it is not!