Rotisserie chicken sandwiches, salad-in-a-jar or thermos gazpacho
If it turns out that you’ll be doing most of your driving during the day, there are plenty of sandwich options that pack well beyond peanut butter and jelly. Homemade chicken salad tastes even better (and is more nutritious) when you add fruit, nuts and fresh herbs. Poaching or roasting chicken isn’t hard but using rotisserie chicken is a great no-cook option. Put it in a croissant and add an avocado to make it filling and provide healthy fats. (Keep the avocado whole until you are ready to eat; just don’t forget to pack a knife.)
You can also whip up a quality BLT while on the road. Cook some turkey bacon that morning — it can stay crisp for hours unrefrigerated — and marinate tomatoes the night before you go. (Just sprinkle tomato slices with a splash of red wine vinegar and olive oil and store in a container in the fridge.) Get fresh bread, lettuce and mayo or an avocado and assemble it when you’re ready to eat.
If you need dinner, too, make the time spent in the car work for you: Whip up a salad that gets better the longer in marinates, like an Asian slaw salad that you can toss with pre-pulled rotisserie chicken, cooked shrimp and/or cashews before serving. Another creative way to get your greens in is to compose a salad in a jar that you stash in the cooler. These score lots of road-trip friendly points for being easy to store and eat, and the layers keep ingredients fresher and crisper.
You can really add what you want — maybe blue cheese and bacon for a take on a Cobb salad; shrimp and beans for a taco spin — then just shake to dress it all up. Pasta salad versions work here, too. You can try something as simple as mixing jarred chick peas with onion and oil and vinegar, then layering it on top of spiraled pasta, a handful of arugula and a couple tablespoons each of olives and feta. When you’re ready to eat, just shake.
Lastly, consider a light lunch or dinner of drinkable soup like gazpacho. The recipe below is tasty, fresh and stores well in an insulated travel cup.
Sippin’ Green Gazpacho
Yield: 6 cups
2 pounds English hothouse cucumbers (about 2 large), chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups coarsely chopped arugula
2 cups coarsely chopped mixed tender herbs (such as basil, parsley, cilantro and/or mint)
3 tablespoons (or more) sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
3/4 cup (or more) olive oil
1. Purée cucumbers, garlic and 1/2 cup water in a blender until smooth. Add arugula, herbs, vinegar and a large pinch of salt and purée, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed, until very smooth. With the motor running, slowly stream in oil; blend until emulsified. (The mixture will turn pale green and look creamy, almost like a salad dressing; add more oil and/or water if needed.) Taste gazpacho and season with more salt and vinegar, as desired. You want it to be borderline too salty and acidic at room temperature. Transfer gazpacho to an airtight container. Cover and chill until very cold, 4 — 12 hours.
2. Taste gazpacho and adjust with a little more salt and/or vinegar, as needed, just before pouring into chilled glasses.