Growing up, one of my favorite meals was grilled cheese: fluffy white bread stuffed with white American cheese, then lathered with butter and left to get crispy on a sizzling hot pan. I used to request mine cooked right at the border of golden brown and burnt. At New Jersey's diners, grilled cheese is a favorite late-night snack, often served with french fries.
Turkey has their own version of grilled cheese, which is somewhat of a cross between a grilled cheese and a panini, called "tost". Turkish kaşar cheese is layered between white bread, and cooked until the cheese is melty on a panini press. Tost can be found almost everywhere as a common street food, but perhaps the best place to enjoy it is while riding the ferry. The smell of the second floor of any Turkish ferry almost always smells like tost is being cooked
One of my biggest frustrations is the fact that although whole wheat products have become commonplace in Turkey, it is impossible to get tost on whole wheat bread (unless you are at a cafe or somewhere that puts their own "twist" on tost). That is why I decided that I would indulge in my tost cravings at home, where I can control all the ingredients and make the tost exactly how I like it.
This tost recipe uses freshly baked whole wheat bread, light kasar cheese slices, and thinly sliced Turkish sucuk. What really makes this tost great though is the flavorful olive oil (with red pepper flakes and thyme) brushed onto the bread before grilling.
This is not so much of a recipe, just general instructions!
Sliced whole wheat bread (note: you can get even more flavor by using an already flavorful bread with additions like kalamata olives, herbs, etc!).
Sliced kaşar cheese
Thinly sliced Turkish sucuk, optional
Extra virgin olive oil
Red pepper flakes
- Prepare the olive oil by placing a small amount into a bowl (for 1 sandwich, you need about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon) with a big pinch of red pepper flakes and thyme. Mix and let sit while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
- In your pan on low heat, cook the sucuk just slightly so it will be warm. Remove from pan.
- Brush the the whole wheat bread with the olive oil mixture (just the outer sides, not the part that will face inside).
- Make your sandwich on the whole wheat bread by laying down one layer of cheese, then the sucuk, then another layer of cheese
- Place sandwich onto the warm pan (med-low heat). Let sit for a few minutes until you can hear it sizzling, and one side is golden brown. Then flip and repeat on the other side. (Note: I personally like to cook my grilled cheese over low heat, because it melts the cheese really well and makes the bread much more crispy when you let it sit on the pan for longer.)
- Remove from pan, cut in half, and enjoy!