In the last installment of rood food, I listed some generalizations of ways to make food on the road. In this installment, I’ll talk recipes, salads and sandwiches. Feel free to tweak any to your own taste buds. And some of them are pretty generalized and can be mixed and matched. For any hot sandwiches, you can either wrap in aluminum foil and then wrap in a towel. Or you can place it in an ice chest without ice, as they are meant to insulate and will keep things hot or cold. Or you can let it cool and find a microwave where ever you are going to reheat. Hot sandwiches are the most difficult to bring with you because they aren’t large and so they won’t retain their heat as well as a casserole will. So I prefer to have the ingredients ready to go and then plan on having it for a meal when we get home. You have limited dishes and time to prepare them, but it’ll be something warm and with some substance after a long day out sightseeing.
You can pre-make a basic green salad after you do your typical grocery shopping. When I come home from our weekly grocery-shopping trip, we put away groceries, except produce. We have a very small refrigerator, and putting whole veggies in it means there’s no room for anything else. For any veggies that are specifically for a meal, I’ll cut, dice, chop, etc, and then put it into a small Ziploc with the name of that meal written in sharpie on the outside. For any veggies meant to be eaten raw, I’ll cut up into sticks/chunks, like carrots, celery, broccoli, and put those into a large Ziploc all together, so that we always have a portable veggie tray ready to go.
For salad, per person, per week, I buy about 1 head of lettuce, 1 tomato, 1 carrot stick, half a cucumber, a few green onions, and a large broccoli floret. I chop up the veggies really small and toss with lettuce. Then I put it into Ziploc bags, zip most of the way shut, push out all the air, and the zip the rest of the way. It will be very small, and take up very little space.
Crumbled feta or bleu cheese
Ham, chicken, bacon
Raisins or dried cherries
Apples or mandarin oranges or zest from oranges or lemons
Cilantro, lime, coconut, and shrimp for a Thai salad
Green salad doesn’t have to be boring! It can have a variety of tastes and proteins added to make it more of a full meal. And with different dressings, you can add a lot of flavor. Be careful of dressings if you have certain dietary restrictions, though. Some people can’t handle any cream based dressing. If you’re needing low sodium or low sugar, you can easily make your own dressings with vinegar and oil and fruit or herbs.
I have three basic pasta salads that we all like.
- Pasta salad: 1 pound cooked macaroni, 1 can diced olives, 1 cut up avocado, 1 cut up tomato, 1 handful of shredded cheddar cheese, and about 6 oz of cooked and cut up ham. Add all to a bowl, pour in half Italian dressing/half Ranch dressing to taste, it’ll probably be about ¼ a regular bottle of each. Mix well. Serves 4
- Tortellini-Asparagus salad: Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook 18 oz cheese filled tortellini, 1 pound asparagus cut up, an 1 large yellow pepper cut up, until tortellini is cooked. Drain and rinse with cold water until the pasta is cooled. In another small bowl, mix together the zest and juice of 1 lemon, ¼ c olive oil, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 1 clove minced garlic, and mix thoroughly. Add dressing to large bowl with pasta and veggies. Add ½ c parmesan, ½ c sliced green onions, and ¼ c chopped almonds. Toss together and refrigerate (or place in an ice chest with ice) for at least two hours, or up to 24 hours. Serves 4
- Crab Salad: a pound of pasta shells cooked and drained, half a pound of bacon cooked and crumbles, a package of Krab, two ribs of celery diced, one small red onion diced, and half a bottle of ranch dressing. Mix all together and refrigerate (or put in an ice chest with ice) for at least 2 hours, or up to 24. Serves 4-6.
Deli Sandwiches are great because like the green salads, you can keep a lot of stuff on hand and use it depending on your mood. A lot of the items can also be used for both a deli sandwich as well as green salads.
To keep on hand: Thinly sliced meat such as turkey, ham, roast beef, sliced cheese such as Colby Jack or Provolone, tomatoes for slicing, lettuce, pickle slices, mayo and mustard or any other dressing you might like such as a vinaigrette or Italian dressing.
I’ll typically make ahead sandwiches, wrap them up in a paper towel, put them into a sandwich sized Ziploc, mark the outside so we know which sandwich is for whom, and put it into the ice chest.
Tuna fish is another favorite of mine. In my tuna, I’ll put mayo, mustard, sweet relish, diced onions and celery, and a bit of paprika. I also like cut up hard boiled eggs in mine, and I like to top it with sprouts. You can make a chicken salad sandwich by subbing out chicken for tuna.
Egg salad is hard boiled eggs with a bit of mayo, mustard, and paprika. Basic but yummy.
Hot sandwiches come in two basic forms, those that are grilled on a press, also known as a Panini, and those that are open faced and baked. There are a few exceptions to this: hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages, and BBQ sandwiches such as pull pork. For now, I’ll talk about the two main ones, as it’s a basic concept with a few different ingredients.
The Panini. To make a Panini, you put ingredients between bread, oil up a press/forman grill/skillet, and cook till bread is browned and ingredients are warmed. If you use a skillet, you can wrap a brick in foil to use as a weight. Another way is to use an additional pot or pan that fits inside the skillet, put two cans from your pantry in it, and use it as a weight while cooking your Panini. I’ve never used an actual Panini press. Forman grills tend to make the sandwich a bit slanted because of how the lid comes down. Using the skillet method I prefer, simply because often the bread gets browned before the ingredients inside get warm. My grill doesn’t have temperature settings. It’s either on or off. So with a skillet, you can put the heat on low and give it a bit more time. If you just can’t wait that long, you can always microwave the ingredients for a minute before assembling the sandwich and grilling.
Here’s some frequently used grilled sandwich combos we use. They tend to be ones that all of us like, as well as ones that have common ingredients we typically keep on hand anyways.
- Mozzarella/tomato/basil leaf
- Turkey/apricot preserves/brie
- Tuna melt/ Colby jack or cheddar
- Roast beef/ grilled onions and mushrooms/ Swiss
- Rueben’s, pastrami/ 1000 Island/sauerkraut/Swiss or provolone
- Roast beef/with a mix of onions, bell peppers, jalapeno olives, and artichoke hearts that have been marinated in a bit of olive oil with oregano and red pepper flakes/Swiss or provolone
- Patty Melt, cooked ground beef patties/ grilled onions/ tomato/ American, Cheddar, Colby jack or all three!
I include bruschetta in this category because we eat it as a main course often enough. These are pretty easy to make ahead, pop in the fridge, and when you get back you can pop it into the oven at 400 for a few minutes and dinner is ready!
A few of our favorites are:
- Meatball subs
- Tomato/green olive/olive oil/basil/and cheddar bruschetta
- Cooked shrimp/lime juice/mango pieces/cilantro/brie bruschetta
- Open faced on a hollowed out French roll, Dijon mustard, cooked ground beef with a bit of Worcestershire sauce, topped with Swiss.
- Open faced/dip in a hollowed out French roll (use extra pieces to dip), cooked and diced ham/green onions/cream cheese/sour cream
- And of course pizza! It’s not really too much different than an open faced sandwich. There’s endless toppings you can put on it. It’s helpful to have a pre-made crust. Then you can just add the sauce/cheese/ and toppings and bake for ten minutes.
Finally, the last group of sandwiches. Slow cooking a “cheap” cut of meat will give you delicious pulled BBQ sandwiches. When slow cooking, you can add some onions, garlic, a bit of wine, and it will turn it into a delicious feast! Hamburgers and hot dogs are quick and easy. As a way to spice them up a bit, you can add pretty much any topping that you would on a pizza, plus chili cheese, bacon, BBQ, and sauerkraut. Sausages can be made similarly to hot dogs, and Gabe and I will often eat sausages as the kids eat hot dogs. Sausages are eaten on a hoagie roll. You can put some grilled peppers, onions, and mushrooms, along with some Swiss cheese. Or you can put spicy mustard and sauerkraut. BBQ sauce or teriyaki sauce. They are very good. As a warning, both hot dogs and sausages are FULL of salt.
The last sandwich that we make fairly often is a Spam sandwich. Yeah, I know. This is totally bad for you, but we all enjoy it from time to time. And if any of you are saying to yourself “I will NEVER eat spam”, I’d encourage you to try it. It doesn’t take up valuable freezer/fridge space. And it pairs well with eggs, pineapple or fried rice. For our spam sandwich, we grill sliced spam. Set aside. We put mayo on the inside of hamburger buns and grill them. Set aside. We grill two eggs per sandwich, over easy or sunny side up. Then you assemble the sandwich, topping with a bit of cheddar cheese. It’s fast, easy, and what I consider comfort food. Not the healthiest by ANY means. But it makes for a halfway decent lunch.