Despite the enduring popularity of low-carb diets, bread remains a popular staple in many kitchens. The ultimate comfort food, it’s also nutritious, versatile and affordable. Sliced sandwich bread might be the most common type of bread, but other styles have come to the forefront in recent years. Here’s how you can make your meals better with bread.
While this oval-shaped bread is hardly new, it’s enjoyed a surge of popularity recently. Many cultures have their own versions of flatbread, including Native American fry bread; try it topped with honey or jelly. Flatbread’s shape lends itself well to toppings, which may be why flatbread pizzas can be found on so many restaurant menus.
Pita bread might be considered a type of flatbread but is usually smaller and round in shape. Pitas are best known for their use in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes, whether stuffed with vegetables, meat and cheese or slathered with hummus or an eggplant spread called baba ganoush. However, many American restaurants offer a variety of wraps that incorporate the bread.
Ooh la la, the French baguette loaf is a classic bread style for a reason. Its long, narrow shape makes it shareable among several people. The crisp exterior of a French baguette loaf conceals a surprisingly soft inside, which makes for a uniquely satisfying textural experience. A slice or two of baguette can be the perfect accompaniment to a soup or stew. And don’t throw away that last hunk of unused baguette; slightly stale French bread makes excellent croutons, either baked or fried, for soups, and for salads.
Naan is often used in its native India to scoop up curries. It’s also tasty covered with melted ghee, a type of clarified butter, or stuffed with cheese and other toppings. Naan can be found in many American grocery stores, either in its standard form or a miniature version. Both sizes are ideal for making quick pizzas with the fixings of your choice.
Dinner rolls are wonderfully comforting, especially with pot roast or another home-cooked entree. Sometimes, though, rolls and buns can take center stage. Gravy bread is popular in both Chicagoland and in Appalachian mountain cultures. Recipes vary — and none are what anyone would call health foods — but the idea is to soak bread or rolls in gravy or au jus for a comforting treat.
Regardless of current diet trends, bread isn’t going anywhere. From ancient cultures to artisan bakeries, this starchy side will always be a source of comfort, nutrition, and satisfaction in cuisines around the world and a wonderful addition to any family meal.
By Anita Ginsburg
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.