Fast, healthy road food

Posted Wednesday, May. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Green pea hummus Makes enough for 4 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen small green peas 8 ounces of store-bought hummus About 10 large basil leaves 2 tablespoons of olive oil Juice of 1 lime Pinch sea salt Pinch of cayenne pepper Pita chips, for serving Put all of the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste for seasonings. Add a bit more lime juice, sea salt, or cayenne if necessary. Refrigerate for at least a half-hour before serving. Nutritional analysis per serving: 247 calories, 13 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, no cholesterol, 251 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber, 44 percent of calories from fat.
White bean, bacon and cherry tomato salad Makes 4 servings 1 tablespoon of olive oil 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 (15-ounce) can of white beans, drained and rinsed Sea salt and pepper 6 to 8 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters Pinch of smoked paprika 3 green onions, chopped 4 pieces of bacon, cooked till crispy and crumbled 6 ounces of arugula Splash of red wine vinegar (optional) 1. Put the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan and turn the heat to medium-low. Let this cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until you can smell the garlic. Add the white beans, salt and pepper, cherry tomatoes, and smoked paprika. Cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt —this won't take more than 10 minutes. Add the chopped green onions and bacon. 2. Serve over a handful of arugula and with a splash of red wine vinegar, if you'd like (I do). This is equally great served warm, cold or at room temperature. Nutritional analysis per serving: 211 calories, 7 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 119 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber, 29 percent of calories from fat.
Eggplant, red bell pepper and quinoa Makes 4 servings 1 eggplant, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1/2 of a yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil Sea salt and pepper 1 cup of quinoa (uncooked) Handful of cilantro, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon of cumin Juice of 1/2 of a lemon 1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a cookie sheet (you may need 2) with parchment paper. Toss the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion pieces onto the cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a big pinch of sea salt and pepper. 2. Cook the veggies until browned on all sides, or about 20 to 30 minutes total. Let cool. 3. While the veggies are roasting, make your quinoa by putting two cups of salted water on to boil, and when it boils, add the 1 cup of quinoa. Stir, turn down the heat, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes or until the quinoa absorbs all of the water. Fluff. Let this cool, too. 4. Put the quinoa into a large bowl along with the veggies. Add the cilantro, cumin, and lemon and toss. Taste for seasonings. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Nutritional analysis per serving: 298 calories, 13 grams fat, 41 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, no cholesterol, 16 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber, 38 percent of calories from fat.
Chocolate chip and walnut blondies Makes 36 bite-size blondies Inspired by a recipe from Mark Bittman and the Smitten Kitchen website 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt 1 cup of flour 1 stick of butter, melted 1 cup of brown sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon of vanilla 1 cup of chocolate chips 1 cup of walnuts, toasted then roughly chopped Fleur de sel, for sprinkling on top 1. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment or foil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sea salt and flour. Set this aside. 3. Put the melted butter and brown sugar in a mixer and combine. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the color changes to light yellow. Let this go a few minutes on high. 4. Add the flour-sea salt mixture and gently combine. Ditto with the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour the mixture into the pan, lightly dust with fleur de sel, and slide into the oven. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the edges brown. Be sure not to overcook this. Gooey is gooooood. Nutritional analysis per blondie: 102 calories, 6 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 13 milligrams cholesterol, 56 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 54 percent of calories from fat.

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Now that I’m a true road warrior — I can’t count the number of times I’ve driven from Denton to Santa Fe in the last year — I’m becoming an expert on what to eat along the way. Depending on my route, there are a few places where I like to stop (Golden Light Cafe in Amarillo is a favorite), but I don’t always time my driving to coincide with the lunch hour. Plus, as much as I love biting into that green chile cheeseburger, afterward, I’m more in the mood for a two-hour nap instead of the five-plus hours ahead of me.

So I’m learning to pack my own road food. The requirements are simple: 1) It must be easy and quick to make, because who wants to spend hours in the kitchen the day or two before traveling? 2) It should be healthy and on the light side. 3) It should fit into a small cooler. 4) It must be delicious.

It does not need to be something to eat while you drive. In fact, I strongly suggest that you do not do this. No matter where you are driving to and from, there’s almost always a place to pull off and spread your things out and have a little picnic.

The idea is to make it simple, whatever you do. There’s no need to go out and buy paper plates and plastic utensils. Use your own dishes and silverware. (If you feel like your dishes are too fancy, then go to the nearest thrift store, like I do, and buy some cheap white plates.) Then pack them in a few dishtowels to use as napkins and/or placemats. Not only is this easier and cheaper, it’s also better for the environment. You can wash them up and repack them when you get to your destination.

All of these recipes are lightning-fast to put together — 30 minutes or less — and can be served cold or at room temperature. One small cooler will do the trick.

Of course, if you’re really in a time crunch, you can always make sandwiches. I still like mine best on a baguette. You can take the girl out of Paris.

Ellise Pierce is the Cowgirl Chef and author of COWGIRL CHEF: Texas Cooking with a French Accent (Running Press). Read her blog and watch her cooking videos on You can also follow her on Twitter:

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