Once again, we took a road trip to Eastern Montana in July and I was determined to be prepared with food. We’re not terribly picky eaters, but we don’t eat much meat and we prefer lots of fresh fruits and vegetables — a difficult situation for this part of the country.
Well, this time, in addition to stocking the car with cooking supplies for motel cooking (including the electric kettle and a large supply of bulgur) and picnics, as I’ve written about in this blog the past couple summers, I brought along my salad spinner.
I was so glad I did, because every day of this trip was HOT (in Miles City, a bank thermometer read 111 degrees one day) and we were often eating salads or fresh fruit (washed in the spinner) accompanied by bread.
I love a simple oil-lemon dressing on our salads, so I brought olive oil, lots of lemons (when I ran out, I could find more, even in the remotest town) and salt. Also a little pecorino to sometimes grate on top. And yes, I brought my lemon reamer and a zester, which I used for grating.
A couple of times I did make a bulgur salad with garbanzo beans and whatever fresh vegetables I could find.
One day I was really glad I had some leftover salad in the little ice chest because we were stopped for road construction for about 20 minutes — right at lunch time! It wasn’t exactly a picnic environment, but that salad did hit the spot!
But a salad can be pretty lonely without good bread. (If you’re going through Missoula, be sure to stop at Le Petit Outre.) Between good bakeries, we relied on our supply of Ak-Maks and other crackers.
Okay, it’s nice to have a knife and a cutting board, and even (if you want to get fancy) some pretty cloths to put on a picnic table. Yes, it does require some preparation, but it’s so worth it.
I remember road trips with my parents, where we would stop at shady parks for lunch, which often consisted of sandwiches with cream cheese and grapes — which we children loved. On our recent trip, at a forested rest stop in Idaho, we saw a Japanese family with three generations enjoying a huge picnic, including miso soup and hot noodles.
Whatever your food preferences are–even if it’s takeout– as always, my motto is: Whenever possible, make it a picnic!