Around 1990, appetizer and hors d’oeuvres menus around the country started featuring bruschetta. Early versions of the toasted bread snack were commonly topped with fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, a combination of garlic bread and French bread pizza. Diners embraced the concept with fervor and the choice of toppings increased with demand.
Bruschetta has enjoyed new popularity and can be served with equal grace at a sit-down dinner or a Sunday-afternoon football buffet. It is loaded with good foods but you might watch your intake of this classic appetizer.
The Italian verb “bruscare” means ‘to roast over coals’ and “brusciare” means ‘to burn or toast,’ which is how the first bruschetta was made. The noun bruschetta is derived from these verbs although modern style bruschetta is often made from bread grilled in a skillet or baked in an oven until hard and dry. If you order bruschetta in Italy, you will likely be served one piece of crusty, lightly toasted Italian bread slathered with olive oil with a clove of garlic on the side. However, if you order bruschette, the plural of bruschetta, expect a plate of bruschetta with a variety of toppings.
Stories of Origin
Although all accounts of bruschetta’s origins trace it back to Italy, the exact region and year of its birth are murky. Ancient Romans reportedly used to test the quality of freshly pressed olive oil by smearing it on a piece of fire-toasted bread for tasting, a custom that is now common in all major olive-oil producing regions of Italy, specifically Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. Certain accounts claim the oil-soaked bread was rubbed with a clove of garlic to bring out the flavors of the oil. Other historical accounts of bruschetta claim it evolved from people trying to revitalize stale bread by soaking it with olive oil.
The original, unadorned bruschetta was the poor man’s version of garlic bread. The toast was merely flavored with garlic essence instead of having pieces of garlic served on the surface of the bread. As the hors d’oeuvre gained popularity in America, olive oil and garlic remained part of the recipe but the traditional Italian toppings were frequently replaced with sausage, cheese, pancetta, mushrooms, olive spread and truffles.
For best results, use an authentic Italian bread, the more rustic the better; ciabatta is a good choice. Acceptable substitutes include French baguette or any hearty bread with a chewy body and porous texture that toasts well. Toast the bread on both sides to avoid sogginess. Use the highest quality virgin or extra virgin olive oil to impart the bruschetta with the best taste.
Health & wellness facts: Tomato & Grilled vegetable Bruschetta
One serving of bruschetta, consisting of 2 tbsp. of bruschetta topping and a 1-inch slice of Italian bread, contains 140 calories, although this amount may vary depending on the ingredients used in the bruschetta. If you follow a 2,000-calorie diet, the amount of calories in a serving of this appetizer accounts for 7 percent of the quantity you should consume each day.
Bruschetta is generally not a high fat food — one serving adds 3 g of fat to your meal plan. Some restaurants serve this dish by rubbing butter or oil and garlic on the bread and toasting it, which does add some fat. Bruschetta toppings may also contain olive oil, so consider preparing this appetizer at home to avoid unnecessary fat. Aim to take in 44 to 78 g of fat per day from bruschetta and other foods — this is the equivalent to 20 to 35 percent of your daily calories in a 2,000-calorie diet.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
The carbohydrates you get in a serving of bruschetta — 24 g — contribute to your daily energy needs. Your body breaks this macronutrient down into usable energy, although you need larger quantities of carbs to meet your requirements. As a rule, you should eat 225 to 325 g per day. You also take in 1 g of fiber; you need 22 to 28 g of fiber per day if you are a woman or 28 to 34 g of fiber if you are man. You can boost fiber in bruschetta by opting for whole-grain breads instead of white bread.
A serving of bruschetta introduces a good source of vitamin C, with 10 percent of the recommended daily intake. The vitamin C in this dish is critical for healing — it revs up your immune system and helps your body to recover faster from cuts and scrapes. Eating a serving of bruschetta also provides 6 percent of the vitamin A your body requires.
Consuming bruschetta can help you get the appropriate quantity of iron you need each day. One serving of this dish provides 10 percent of the daily recommended intake. Iron is important for the oxygen levels in your body, and it becomes even more so when you are pregnant. Pregnant women need approximately 8 mg more of iron each day than the average woman. A study published in the May 2011 issue of “Pediatric Blood and Cancer” indicates that severely low iron intake during pregnancy impacts the amount of iron available in breast milk, so including bruschetta in your pregnancy diet can help prevent this.
According to Food.com, a 3/4-inch slice of toasted French bread with a swipe of olive oil and tablespoon of plum tomato, basil and chopped garlic topped with shaved cheese contains nearly 600 calories and 66 grams of carbohydrate. Fat contributes 39 percent, about 1/3 of which is saturated, to the calorie total.
Bruschetta provides some good nutrition, too. Bread and cheese provide about 22 grams of protein and 340 grams of calcium. Tomatoes provide vitamins A and C, magnesium and phosphorus. Bruschetta ingredients combined contribute nearly 12 percent of the daily value of potassium.
Using thin slices of narrow French loaves can reduce calorie counts by half. Grating rather than shaving cheese can decrease the amount of cheese per slice.
Better quality olive oil can reduce fats by half and low-fat cheese can cut fat, too. Fresh ingredients avoid extra calories and carbohydrates in foods with preservatives and the natural fruit sugars that intensify as tomatoes over-ripen.
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Reference & Research Material:
Nutrition and you.com, Live strong.com , Self-nutrition, Healthdiaries.com Buzzel.com, E – How.com