Millie is back with part 2 of the Real Food on the Road series. She shares her strategies for planning and preparing nourishing, road-friendly main dish salads and slaws. Check out part 1, part 3 or the complete trip notes on her blog. Thanks, Millie! –Wardee
When we started the planning process for a ten-day camping/road trip we were taking, our meals were a high priority. We have to eat at least 3 times a day and while on the road it can be challenging to enjoy real/whole/traditional foods. I’ve been on many trips where we existed on dine-out food alone, resulting in one tummy ache after another. Knowing that our bodies do much better on real foods, and knowing we wanted to remain as healthy as possible over the course of our trip, food planning was important.
We planned on taking along a few days of already prepared food, but after that we’d be cooking and preparing in camp. While we would have a few days in one location, several days we would be on the road during lunch time (and it turned out also during breakfast) so preparing food while in camp to eat picnic style the next day would also be necessary. Sandwiches are often the first choice for picnic items but we were looking for other options.
In the first post of this series, I mentioned that this article from GNOWFGLINS was an inspiration for my planning. Wardee talks about basic simple foods that can be prepared ahead and assembled on the spot. One thing she mentions is grain salads. Having used a few grain and legume salad ideas from GNOWFGLINS for our every day meals, I suspected these might be a wonderful option while on our camping/road trip. Knowing we would be gone for an extended length of time, I couldn’t hope to take along all of my prepared ingredients. So I used a combination of methods.
The Main Dish Salads & Slaws Of Our Trip
I made our first salad — Sprouted Lentil Slaw — in advance. It was a side dish for lunch and dinner but is hearty to be a main dish. It is a super easy to prepare salad (a little preplanning is needed to sprout the lentils), travels wonderfully and tastes even better after the flavors have time to meld.
A few days into the trip we enjoyed a salad that was partly made in advance but assembled on site. Using Erin’s recipe for Smoked Salmon and Rice Salad as a guide, we ended up with a wonderful main dish lunch. I premade brown rice and froze it before we left; the frozen rice doubled as an ice pack early in the trip. I mixed up all of the dry seasonings and put them in a small baggie. Instead of smoked salmon we used canned ‘salad salmon’. With this little bit of advance preparation the remaining ingredients were easy to combine in camp for a quick and tasty lunch.
We enjoyed several other salads that were prepared completely while on the road. We love lentils and they are such an easy item to prepare. Sprouted lentils seemed a smart addition to our road trip plans; sprouting lentils on the road was an idea I got from Erin's Sourdough Camping thank-you video. A quick soak of lentils over night and then rinsing twice a day for a few days is very little effort for a real food item. To keep it very easy, I sprouted the lentils in a colander suspended over a cook pot with a lid on it. Because we prefer the lentils slightly steamed (as opposed to raw) my sprouting set up doubled as my steamer.
The sprouted lentils became part of a wonderful main dish salad including green onions, tomato, bell pepper and cucumber topped with thinly sliced beef steak cooked over the fire. We used a creamy salad dressing made out of kefir and spices. (I had premixed the spices and took them along in a baggie.) Lentils grow when sprouting, so the original 2 cups of dry lentils made plenty for Sprouted Lentil Tacos the next night.
Quinoa Salad was probably our most popular lunch. It was super easy to soak the quinoa. I started it in the morning and used raw apple cider vinegar as my acid. Then I cooked it in the evening over the camp stove while doing dinner, and let it cool overnight in the cooler. I mixed it up the next morning using this recipe as a guide, but leaving out the meat option. We took the salad with us on a picnic. At serving time we opened a tin of local tuna (bought at a road side fish stand and packed in Florence, Oregon) and portioned it over each individual’s salad. Delicious!
Benefits of Main Dish Salads
One of the wonderful things about main dish salads is the incredible versatility. Almost any combination of vegetables will work in these salads. You could add raisins or other dried fruit if you desired. Nuts are also a great addition. Sometimes we have a main dish salad without any meat, but add nuts, hard boiled eggs and/or avocado. Frozen vegetables (thaw before using) could also be used in a pinch. The versatility comes in handy when in a small town with limited shopping selections. Roadside stands also make nice salad addition shopping options. Another thing I really like about these salads is the fact that they store well in the cooler and improve with time. The flavors tend to get better after being allowed to combine for several hours. Making the salad either the night before or in the morning worked great for a spectacular picnic lunch.
I really love the ease of preparing these salads, that combined with the flexibility and portability made these a definite winner that we’ll be sure to enjoy on our next camping/road trip adventure.
Do you have a favorite main dish salad that you wish to share?
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