Rhubarb and Lemon French Toast

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Lemon French Toast

Would a toast by any other name taste as sweet? French toast, much like French fries, is not really from France. Or as far as  historians can tell. The now famous concoction of egg- and milk-soaked bread has gone by many names throughout its history. In Spain, it is known as torriga; in Germany, arme ritter; and in England, Poor Knights of Windsor. Some have called it Spanish Bread; others, German Bread; and yes, even American Bread. It seems that every country wants to lay claim to the invention of this wonderful breakfast item. But where did the internationally-renowned dish actually originate?

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Lemon French ToastThe first evidence of French toast can be found in De Re Coquinaria (“The Art of Cooking”), a Roman cookbook dating back to the 4th or 5th century AD. Within this collection, a recipe that closely resembles our current breakfast staple goes by the much humbler name, “Another Sweet Dish.” Despite the different title, the preparation is impeccably similar: “break/slice fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk and beaten eggs, fry in oil, cover with honey and serve.” Swap the honey for maple syrup, and you have modern French toast!

It is unclear exactly how the egg-battered breakfast item became associated with the French. In France, the dish was once called Pain à la Romaine (“Roman Bread”), which appears to confirm the recipe’s Roman heritage. Today, however, the French refer to it as Pain Perdu or “Lost Bread.” Traditionally, this name was thought to be a reference to the attempts of poor Medieval families to salvage their staling (“lost”) bread by battering and frying it. Yet, despite the quaint anecdote,  it is more probable that Pain Perdu was a luxury item of the wealthy, not the poor.  Due to the illiterate and impoverished status of the Medieval lower classes, it is unlikely that they would have read the cookbooks containing the recipe or purchased the necessary white bread and spices, which were expensive commodities at the time.

Gluten-Free Rhubarb Lemon French Toast

For anyone who has tasted French toast, it is no wonder that it was a dish reserved for the wealthy. It is undeniable that the taste is fairly luxurious. Unfortunately, in modern forms of the recipe, this luxuriousness can quickly become cloyingly sweet when the custard base is paired with a sugary topping. This Rhubarb and Lemon French Toast, however, takes an alternate approach. Rhubarb and lemon contribute beautifully vibrant flavors without adding excess calories. The bright acidity of the two ingredients is softened with just a touch of honey, complimenting the sweetness of the toast while adding a burst of flavor in each bite. And at under 150 calories a serving, it’s a decadent taste without the caloric splurge!

Whether you call it French, Spanish, German, Roman, or American Bread, you can definitely agree that this dish is délicieux, delicioso, lecker, esculentus, and delicious!

Rhubarb Compote

To maximize the nutritional profile of this recipe, be sure to select a fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt, and choose a whole grain, high-fiber bread. BONUS TIP: If you find yourself with some extra rhubarb compote on hand, layer it with some low-fat vanilla yogurt for a delectable dessert-like parfait. 

Rhubarb and Lemon French Toast
Yield: 4 servings

RHUBARB COMPOTE
1 cup chopped rhubarb
2 Tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

LEMON YOGURT DRIZZLE
¼ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey

FRENCH TOAST
1 egg
¼ cup low-fat milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
pinch salt
4 slices gluten-free bread

For the Rhubarb Compote:
Combine rhubarb and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until rhubarb breaks down to a relatively smooth compote, about 10 minutes (there will still be a few small chunks present). Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and vanilla. Set aside.

For the Lemon Yogurt Drizzle:
Whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to personal taste preferences (for a tarter drizzle, add a pinch of lemon zest. For a sweeter drizzle, add more honey).

For the French Toast:
Heat a skillet over medium heat and thoroughly coat with cooking spray. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Dip each side of gluten-free bread in egg mixture, letting bread soak at least 15 seconds per side. Transfer egg-dipped bread to preheated skillet and cook on each side until golden brown.

Transfer hot toast to a serving plate and top with rhubarb compote and yogurt drizzle. Enjoy!

 

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving)
Total Calories: 145 calories
Total Fat: 4 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Sodium: 195 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 25 grams
Sugars: 14 grams
Fiber: 4 grams
Protein: 5 grams

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