One summer a few years back, I spent three weeks cycling down the Pacific Coast. When it came to meals, a summer ride meant one thing: eating and cooking with summer produce. And even though we’re winding down the warm days, there’s still plenty of just-right veggies available.
The beauty of bicycle touring is that you’re able to eat more fresh produce than you would on other types of outdoor adventures. A last minute shopping trip before you hit the campsite means you are not stuck to the doldrums of dehydrated meals every night.
At the tail end of summer, tomatoes were in abundance, overflowing at grocery stores and any farmers markets that we happened to stumble across. While plump, ripe tomatoes won’t do so well crammed into a bag or pannier, they’re easy to fit in a bike jersey pocket and will add color and flavor to every meal. Another staple of bicycle touring? Bakeries. A hearty loaf of sourdough bread will get you through several lunches and meals, not to mention it makes for the perfect camp appetizer: bruschetta.
Hailing from Italy, bruschetta is an appetizer that starts with a base of grilled bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic. It can stop there, but typically in the United States it tends to be topped with tomatoes.
While tomatoes and basil are a common combination, freshly chopped cilantro adds a unique flavor. This dish is only going to be as good as the quality of your tomatoes, so make time to stop by a market, farm stand, or grocery store and get your hands on some colorful, heirloom tomatoes. Mixed with cilantro, garlic, and sea salt, it makes for a camp appetizer that’s worthy of any urban culinary experience.
This recipe makes enough for about four people. It will also help you make friends with your campsite neighbors, so don’t be shy: share! If you are left with some of the topping mix and no more bread to put it on, the tomato and cilantro combination also makes an excellent addition to pasta.
As a tip, if you’re traveling with someone else, you’ll have a slightly easier time if one person is on bread grilling duty and the other on bruschetta assembly. This is particularly helpful if you want to be serving the bruschetta warm.
2 to 3 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes 4 to 5 cloves garlic A small handful of cilantro leaves, chopped (about 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped leaves) Salt< Ground black pepper 8 to 10 slices of bread Olive oil
Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and place them in in a bowl or pot. Finely chop two of the garlic cloves and add them to the tomatoes, along with the cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil over it and mix together. Taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Place a frying pan or pot over medium heat on your stove and pour in a little olive oil. Grill a slide of bread on both sides, until both sides are a golden brown. Remove the bread slice from the pan and place on a plate. Take a clove of garlic and lightly rub the grilled bread with it. Top with a generous scoop of the tomato and cilantro mixture. Repeat until you’ve grilled all the bread and used up the tomato and cilantro mixture.