It’s easy to snack and snack some more on the road. You eat whatever is in the car. You stop for gas and succumb to the quick-stop junk food. You’re anxious to get where you are going and don’t stop for good meals. After so much sweet and refined carbs, we have to put a stop to the deluge.
Stopping and eating a salad along the way is a practical remedy. It feels good to be downing something wholesome and healthy. The carb-break is wonderful. And salads are quick and easy, getting us back on the road in a hurry.
With a properly stocked cooler, stop and have a salad almost anywhere. You need a break from driving anyway. Pull over and enjoy a salad while you watch the kayakers on the river or the ducks bobbing through the cattails on the marsh. You’ll find both the stop and the salad refreshing.
What kind of salad can you eat? The choices are myriad. Your favorite at-home salads can be adapted to the road. All it takes is a little planning and cooler that will keep your food at 40 degrees.
We divide road salads into two groups: those that you make ahead of time and store in the cooler and those that you put together at the pull-out. Most pasta salads, potato salads, and gelatin salads are make ahead salads. Greens that will get soggy or fruit that will get mushy dictate assembly on site. Just prep the greens at home and pack along a bottle of dressing. Those little bags of prepackaged salad greens that you can buy are perfect for the road. They’ll keep for several days in a cooler. You can assemble most of these roadside salads in 15 minutes or less.
We’ll share a couple suggestions with you. Consider these prototypes—principles of what you can build for the road—more than recipes. Use these principles to build salads that fit your palate.
Turkey, Spinach, and Feta Cheese Salad
This salad is as great on the road as it is at home. Prep the greens at home or buy them prepackaged. Cut up the turkey meat (or substitute chicken, bacon, or ham) and store it in a sipper-type bag. Bring along the cheese, basil, and walnuts. Pack a pepper mill and a bottle of vinaigrette. It’ll only take minutes to put together a great salad.
1 bag packaged spinach salad greens
2 cups chopped turkey meat
1 cup feta, blue, or gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon dry basil leaves
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. At the grocery store, pick up the spinach greens, deli meat, and cheese. Cut the turkey meat into cubes or strips. Toss the meat with basil and pepper and store it in a plastic container or bag. Crumble the cheese and store it in a bag or container.
2. Put your favorite vinaigrette in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Put the walnuts in a plastic bag.
3. Put everything in a cooler, including the nuts. You should have adequate ice to keep your ingredients at 40 degrees.
4. When you get ready to eat, break out the paperware and plastic utensils. Scatter the greens on paper plates. Top the greens with turkey, cheese, and walnuts. Drizzle it with dressing and enjoy.
Chicken, Bacon, and Tomato Salad
This salad recipe was inspired by the perennially favorite club sandwich. It boasts chicken, bacon, tomato, and mozzarella on a bed of spinach greens and is topped with a creamy vinaigrette.
The dressing can be made with either yogurt or mayonnaise—whichever you prefer. It’s made with equal parts lime juice and honey with just a bit of prepared mustard. If you prefer, use a commercial dressing.
For the Salad
1 1/2 cups sliced, cooked chicken meat
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
For the Dressing
1/2 cup plain yogurt or mayonnaise
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
1 dash salt
1/2 tablespoon prepared mustard
1. At the store, buy the deli meat and salad greens. We’re partial to spinach but suit yourself. Buy the tomatoes and some grated mozzarella. You can buy precooked bacon or nuke some at home in the microwave.
2. Put all your salad ingredients in the cooler. Do not cut up the tomatoes. Make sure that the cooler is well-packed with ice.
3. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Whisk until smooth. Put the dressing in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and place the dressing in the cooler.
4. On the road, dice or slice the tomatoes. Arrange the chicken, tomatoes, cheese, and spinach greens on a plate. Serve with dressing on the side.