The broiler might just be one of the most underutilized kitchen tools. It's simple, everyone's got one and it's usually mess-free, which is a bonus in my kitchen.
And it's the broiler that saves me a lot of nights. I love to have bread with salads, pastas, soups and the like. But a loaf of fresh bread won't stay fresh long, and since I don't shop daily, by the end of the week I'm staring at a lone loaf of sandwich bread. That's OK, though. When that happens, I use a trick my mom did when I was growing up. It's easy: sandwich bread + butter + parm + a quick trip under the broiler.
I've updated the version, opting for fresh cheese instead of the kind in the green can, and I sub olive oil for butter. And when I really want to class it up I trim the crusts and cut the bread into triangles or long, thin rectangles. I like to top mine with red pepper flakes, but the possibilities are endless with this easy bread. Fresh chopped tomatoes, thinly sliced apple, chopped herbs or whatever else you've got in the kitchen.
And since this bread is of the economical variety, don't over spend on one of those tubs of shredded parm. Buy a large chunk, cut it into pieces the size a large eraser and pop it in the food processor (this probably works best in a good-quality food processor). It will make an alarming clank at first, but give it a second and it will begin to hum. Whiz until it's finely chopped. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for a few weeks.
One last tip: Don't walk away from the oven. Watch it. This bread cooks in literally a minute or two. Pull it out when it starts to brown and the cheese is melting.
Here's the how-to.