While on a bicycle tour last summer down the west coast, I made my favorite bicycle touring discovery: grilled bread. It might sound simple, but at the end of a long day in the saddle, a crunchy piece of bread dripping in olive oil and slightly charred is better than any meal at a fancy restaurant. The simplest rendition of this is just to grill a few pieces of bread and rub them down with a clove of garlic. Serve this at a campsite with fellow cyclists and you’ll easily make new friends.
But to take this up yet another notch, I use the same method to make grilled sandwiches.
This is a recipe that you can make at home after a ride or on a bicycle tour, and you are only limited by your creativity. In fact, this is less of a recipe and more of a guided description, which is how I think any bicycle adventure friendly recipe should be. No one’s out there with a cookery book strapped to their rack!
I like to think of this one in particular more as a formula. Most people might stop at bread and cheese, but with a couple of other additions you’ll make a grilled sandwich that’s sure to please even the most demanding of culinary cyclists. The trick is that in addition to the bread and cheese, you want both a sweet and a savory ingredient, as well as some herbs. On cycling trips, I like to snag fresh herbs at a store whenever possible, and if that doesn’t happen, I always have a few dried ones on hand in my spice kit.
I have suggested some pairings below. And not to worry, with a healthy amount of olive oil, even that loaf of bread that has sat in the pannier for a few days will work.
Grilled Sandwich Formula
2 slices of bread, fresh or not-so-fresh
Clove of garlic (optional)
Savory ingredient (like sundried tomatoes, mustard)
Sweet ingredient (like honey, jam, slice of apple)
An herb, fresh or dried
Brie + sundried tomatoes + honey + basil
Goat cheese + sliced onions + fig jam + thyme
Cheddar + pear + mustard + dill
Slice the bread. If you want a bit of a garlicky flavor, rub a fresh clove of garlic on both slices. On one slice of bread, layer the ingredients, beginning and ending with a layer of cheese (this ensures an equal melted consistency once you grill them).
Grill the sandwiches in a pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, keeping the heat as low as you can so as not to burn the sandwich. Flip and grill the other side until the bread has a nice dark, golden brown color and the cheese is melted.