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About the auther: Photo

Anastasiia Smyrnova is enrolled in the Dietetic Internship Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, she has been living in the middle TN area for the past 9 years. She has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and worked in banking for 7 years before switching to a career in dietetics. Her goal is to become a registered dietitian and provide preventative nutrition counseling.

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H ealthy Table*

I Can Cook Bruschetta!

By Anastasiia Smyrnova

I t is very rare that I get excited about cooking, but when it comes to bruschetta - the heavenly and nutritious meal on toast - sign me up! The word bruschetta (pronounced “brusketta,” not “bruschetta”) originated in central Italy and simply means a “slice of toasted bread.” Centuries ago, bruschetta was baked in community ovens on the outskirts of Italian villages and small towns. After baking, the warm and crisp bread was rubbed with garlic and dipped into oil. Today’s version of bruschetta doesn't require a set recipe; it can be modified and transformed in many different ways - as appetizers, snacks, or even entrées. Although bruschetta was created as poor villagers’ food, nowadays the popularity of this traditional antipasto comes from amazing taste, simplicity of preparation, and versatility.

The secret formula to any bruschetta is to buy fresh, local ingredients or grow your own!

Bruschetta might sound and look fancy, but these easy to fix healthy bites can be made in a few simple steps. The secret formula to any bruschetta is to buy fresh, local ingredients or grow your own! You can “dress” your bruschetta according to what is in season. The four staples of my recipe are: vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and, of course, a French baguette.

When possible, buy fresh basil, garlic and tomatoes at your local farmers’ market. Tennessee farmers grow luscious red tomatoes year round in both fields and greenhouses; maybe that is why tomatoes are the Tennessee’s official state fruit! Always look for ripe, deeply colored red tomatoes that are heavy, have a fresh earthy scent and yield to the touch. If tomatoes do not have any aroma, they probably were picked prematurely, and will never ripen. Do not refrigerate, use immediately!

Nothing smells better than a freshly baked, right-out-of-the-oven French baguette - another key ingredient in my bruschetta. This crunchy irresistible bread can come in classic white or whole grain variations, and makes a perfect base to any bruschetta, as long as you don't eat it all on the way home! Whole grain baguettes usually contain more fiber and B vitamins than the classic white ones made from standard processed flours.

Once in the kitchen, gather all of the ingredients, and let the creativity take over. Just remember, to make the best bruschetta you don't have to use a sophisticated recipe, but buying the freshest local ingredients is a must!

Bruschetta Recipes For All Seasons


Summer: Nectarines, Red Bell Pepper and Feta

2 medium ripe nectarines, pitted and finely diced (about 1 cup)
½ medium red bell pepper (about ⅔ cup)
3 green onions, chopped, white parts only
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon minced Serrano Chile
24 thin slices whole wheat baguette
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the middle of the oven.
2. In a medium bowl, gently toss the nectarines, bell pepper, onions, 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the lime juice and Chile. Set aside.
3. Spread out the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Lightly brush the bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil. Bake the baguette slices until the bread is lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes (watch closely so they don't overly brown or burn).
4. Remove the bread from the oven and top each slice with a spoonful of the nectarine mixture. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Place the baking sheet back into the oven and heat the bruschetta for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, just until the bruschetta are heated through. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Serving: 1 Bruschetta
Calories: 111; Fat 4g; Sodium 161g; Sugar 3g; Fiber 2g


Fall: Tomato and Mozzarella

6 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, stems removed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 whole grain French baguette
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, part skim
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.Preheat the oven on broiler setting.
2.Combine the Roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.
3.Cut the baguette into 3/4 - inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.
4. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices. Top the slices with mozzarella cheese.
5.Broil for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Nutrition Information:
Serving: 1 Bruschetta
Calories: 179; Fat: 8g; Sodium: 363g; Sugar 3g; Fiber 2g


Winter: Mushroom and Garbanzo

1 whole grain French baguette, sliced into ½ -inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves fresh garlic, one cut in half and the other minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced if needed
½ pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup frozen green garbanzo beans, thawed
½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1.Preheat oven to 350.
2. Drizzle the bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Take the halved garlic cloves and rub against the slices. Bake slices until golden brown, about 6 minutes.
3.Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium high. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the pan, searing for 2 minutes on one side. Flip and sear 1 more minute.
4.Reduce the heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Bloom about 15 seconds. Then add the mushrooms. Add a little more oil if needed. Sautee everything until slightly brown in color, about 5 minutes.
5. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and green garbanzo beans to the pan. Continue to Sautee for another 3 minutes.
6.Place the toasted bread on a serving platter and spoon the shrimp mixture over it. Can garnish with parsley.
Nutrition Information:
Serving: 1 Bruschetta
Calories: 172; Fat 5g; Sodium 280g; Sugar 3g; Fiber 4g


Spring: Grilled Asparagus and Parmesan

1 whole grain French baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch-thick slices
1 fresh garlic clove, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
30 thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
1.Grill bread slices over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Rub one side of the bread with garlic; brush lightly with oil. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
2.Preheat broiler. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat; add salt. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus and set aside.
3. Combine the Monterey Jack and Parmesan in a bowl. Sprinkle two-thirds of the cheese evenly over the ciabatta slices. Arrange 3 asparagus spears on top of each slice. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the asparagus, dividing evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until the cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut in half. Serve warm.
Nutrition Information:
Serving: 1 Bruschetta
Calories: 169; Fat 9g; Sodium 368g; Sugar 2g; Fiber 2g

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