Category Archives: Roadtrip Fare

For Your Picnic: Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich

If you’re going to the beach, on a hike, for a bike ride, or on a road trip, the Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich is a good companion for a picnic lunch. And now is the perfect time to buy its ingredients in season at the Holland Farmers’ Market.

You can buy everything there (except for olives). Seriously. Even the feta cheese and the bread. And if you need oil and vinegar to make the vinaigrette, just run up the street to Fustini’s.

What I love about this recipe is that it begs for improvisation. Don’t like tomatoes? Try fresh Bell peppers instead. Not a fan of olives? Leave them off and add some capers. Substitute chevre for feta cheese. Numerous combinations are possible!

I was headed to Pereddies’ restaurant and deli in Washington Square to buy kalamata olives for the sandwich, so I decided to try their olive oil bread instead of a big round loaf of sourdough like the recipe suggests. It’s the perfect vehicle for this sandwich!

Below is the original recipe from Southern Living, along with a slideshow of the ingredients and process. It serves 4-6 people.

Tuscan Feta Salad Sandwich


2/3 cup vinaigrette

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 (8-inch) round sourdough bread loaf (about 16 ounces)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

1 large tomato, sliced

1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

1 medium cucumber, sliced

1/2 medium-size purple onion, sliced

1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Whisk first 4 ingredients. Cut bread in half horizontally. Scoop out inside of bread halves, leaving 2-inch shells; brush inside with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette mixture. Layer lettuce and tomato in bottom half of bread, brushing tomato with remaining vinaigrette mixture. Layer cheese and next 3 ingredients over tomato. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours. (Place a large plate on top of sandwich, weighting it down with cans, if necessary, to compress sandwich.) Cut into wedges.

Wrap it up and go!

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How to Camp Like a Locavore

Fresh eggs from Good Harbor Farm

When I go camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with my friend Sandy, we often have a theme that drives our meal decisions as well as the activities we do. This year we decided to wing it, bringing few staples from home and relying on the local food choices we could find in Leelanau County, Michigan.

Okay, so I’m not a purely authentic locavore. That would mean I would only eat food that is locally produced, excluding olive oil, coffee, chocolate, and lemons, to name a few of my favorite ingredients. But I try my best to eat in season as much as possible and support our local economy here in Michigan. So what are staples for Sandy and me on a camping trip? Popcorn, olive oil, and coffee.

The first step to camping like a locavore is heading to the local winery (or grocery store) to get some sparkling wine. One of our favorites is Moonstruck from Good Harbor Vineyards. After picking up some provisions, such as eggs and asparagus at Good Harbor Farm, we headed back to our campsite to pitch the tent. But first we popped the cork on the Moonstruck.

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Then we had some cherry pie that we picked up at The Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan, on our way to the campground.

Moonstruck and cherry pie

Then we put the tarp down.

Camping step two: Put down tarp

And finally, the tent went up.

Camping step three: Put up tent

The first night we went out for dinner at Good Harbor Grill, which is not our normal practice. But the Cherry Pecan Whitefish on the menu was enticing. (What’s with all the Good Harbor this and Good Harbor that? D.H. Day Campground, a rustic campground within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, resides along Good Harbor Bay, one of the most beautiful harbors in Lake Michigan—with no marinas. It’s a nature lover’s paradise.) After dinner we made popcorn over the campfire.

The next day, we headed to the beach at—you guessed it—Good Harbor Bay to make breakfast, which was an Asparagus Frittata and pressed coffee (and leftover Moonstruck).

Frittata ingredients

Red onion and fresh asparagus for frittata

Asparagus frittata and Moonstruck at Good Harbor Bay

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Good Harbor Bay, Leelanau County, Michigan

After relaxing at the beach, we toured some wineries, including one of our favorites (L. Mawby), where we shared a flight of sparkling wine with whitefish pate.

Sparkling wine flight at L. Mawby

Then we headed back to camp for some R&R. I had brought a few ingredients from home to make Lavash Pizza Over a Fire. The base for the pizza was Stinging Nettles Pesto that I had made a few weeks earlier and froze. The tomatoes for one pizza were from the Holland Farmers Market and the goat cheese came from Dancing Goat Creamery. We put Manchego sheep’s cheese and parsley from my garden on the other.

Lavash Pizza Over a Fire

And in the morning? Fried egg sandwich paninis with Stinging Nettles Pesto!

Fried egg and pesto panini

The challenge is always to find ways to use up the ingredients that you find locally and bring from home. The only leftovers we had were pieces of cherry pie. But that was easy. They were nicely accompanied by cups of coffee from Gemma’s Coffee House at the beach in Empire, Michigan, on the way home.

Local Fish Tacos

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places in the world, and I’m lucky to live so close to it.

That’s why it’s become an annual camping destination for my friend Sandy and me. We don’t really “rough it” too much, although three days without a shower may be pushing it. Our focus is on eating–and drinking–well, which is why Day 1 of our camping excursion always includes stops at Good Harbor Vineyards, Stone House Bread, and now Good Harbor Farm.

We used to come up with a cooking theme for each camping trip but the last few years we decided to make it easy on ourselves and just focus on either bringing or procuring locally raised foods. This year, our first dinner was fish tacos with Lake Michigan whitefish from Carlson’s of Fishtown in Leland. (For our previous take on fish tacos, check out the blog post from our 2009 trip when we used shrimp.)

Although I have a one-burner camp stove, which works great for brewing coffee quickly in the morning or making popcorn at night, we generally cook our dinner over a fire.

For the tacos, we cut our one-pound-ish whitefish filet into big chunks so we could marinate them in lime juice, olive oil, onion, and cumin.

Then we sprinkled them with cayenne pepper and put them on foil on the fire grate to cook, flipping them once, for a total cook time of about ten minutes. (You know fish is done when it starts to flake.)

For the vegetables, we used chopped cabbage (which we brought with us from the Holland Farmers Market) and a garnish of fresh cilantro from my garden.

And we made a sauce from my homemade yogurt by mixing it with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a dash of cayenne.

While the fish was cooking we wrapped flour tortillas in foil to heat them on the fire. We made a simple pico de gallo garnish with tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno pepper. And we made a side of organic bok choy (from CJ Veggies at the Holland Farmers Market) steamed with olive oil, salt, and pepper in foil over the fire.

For assembly, you just pull the fish apart with a fork, place it in the middle of the warm tortilla, then top with cabbage, yogurt sauce, pico de gallo, and cilantro.

It’s a quick and easy meal for camping. And it goes great with local wine!

Aeroponics at the Aeropuerto

Urban gardening has hit O’Hare….as in O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, according to Using the aeroponics process to grow 44 different types of organic herbs and vegetables, this collaborative effort between the Chicago Department of Aviation and HMS Host (the company that manages most of the airport’s concessions) supplies produce to restaurants in the airport.

Anyone going through O’Hare in the near future? If so, send me some photos! I’d love to see the garden.

Eating Well at 30,000 Feet

Photo by Frank Brownie via

I don’t know about you, but I have enough trouble finding good restaurants when I go out to eat locally. (I know I wouldn’t be saying that in New York City, but that’s because there are SO many to choose from!) Bill and I have a few reliable favorites–Everyday People Cafe, The Green Well, and Salt of the Earth–but most places in West Michigan still aren’t offering what they could in grassfed or pastured meats and locally sourced ingredients.

When we take long roadtrips, we have our routine down for eating lunch: We pack our own from home. But what about air travel?

One way to deal with it is to fly direct on short flights and eat at home before departure, but that only works if you’re on a short flight with no connections.

And if you’re a business traveler on a return trip, the advice I’m going to share probably won’t help much. But with airlines now providing no food, or processed food at a cost, and the airports capitalizing on our famished stomachs, it seems we’re at the mercy of the segment of the restaurant industry that isn’t focused on local, sustainable food sources.

Michelle Higgins from The New York Times can help. She consulted with a number of chefs about what they would bring onboard. Here’s some advice for your next flight.

Freeze It

  • Chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar brings shrimp cocktail onboard. He freezes the shrimp and packs them in a plastic container, along with separate two-ounce to-go cups of sauce that can clear security. “By the time you get to the airport and go through security,” he said, they will be ready to eat.
  • Freezing meats and cheese will make them last longer.
  • Melissa d’Arabian of the Food Network freezes Go-Gurt and YoPlait yogurt and has no problem getting them through security she says because “they can fit in the required one-quart zip-top plastic bag for security.”

Heat With Hot Water

  • For a hot meal, you can pack cooked pasta, grated cheese (in a separate plastic bag) and some chopped vegetables. This is what Melissa d’Arabian does onboard: “I ask the flight attendant for half a cup of tea water. I pour it over my pasta, close it up and let it sit for a minute or two and drain it back into the cup. Now my pasta is warm.” Add the veggies and cheese and you’ve got a real meal in coach.

Pack a Picnic

  • You can pack a whole grain salad such as quinoa or tabbouleh, in a container with olive oil or dressing at the bottom. Once onboard, simply shake it all up.
  • Marco Porceddu, executive chef for Asellina, suggests bringing a sandwich made with crusty bread, charcuterie and a little olive oil.
  • To save space and seal in any sandwich juices, wrap your sandwich in plastic wrap first, followed by aluminum foil, recommends Mr. Capon. Grapes, carrot sticks with hummus, and vegetable-based sushi like California rolls are also a staple.
Stash Healthy Snacks
  • Stick to a formula of “protein plus complex carbs” for in-flight meals. Melissa d’Arabian carries raw unsalted almonds at all times, which can be combined with a fruit cup for a healthy snack.

Eat Before You Go

  • Eric Ripert, executive chef and an owner of Le Bernardin in New York, avoids airline food  altogether by eating before he gets to the airport. If he’s pressed for time he seeks out the best option at the airport. “I know where Wolfgang Puck Express is in L.A.,” he said, referring to Mr. Puck’s restaurant outpost at Los Angeles International Airport. Since he travels frequently he knows his way through the airports.
Grab and Go
  • Cesare Casella, the executive chef and a partner at Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto, flies frequently so he take burrata, an Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream, onboard. “By the time I start to eat it, the burrata is the perfect temperature, especially on skinny Tuscan bread, toasted,” he said.

The Perennial Plate: Episode 57

The Perennial Plate Episode 57: Lord, Lord, Lord from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Daniel Klein and cameragirl Mirra Fine were down in New Orleans last week for their recent episode of the documentary “The Perennial Plate” focusing on urban gardeners who came back to the city after Hurricane Katrina to rebuild and start making food in the city’s abandoned lots.

Check out their video. For previous episodes, visit their Real Food Road Trip.

Perennial Plate: Episode 56

The Perennial Plate Episode 56: Mississippi Hand Grabbin’ from Daniel Klein on Vimeo.

Daniel Klein continues his Real Food Road Trip with a stop in Mississippi for a bounty of southern hospitality and catfish.