There are few things that I enjoy more than cooking and eating, but if I had to pick something travel would be at the top of that list. Travel energizes me, invokes new perspectives and inspires my day to day life. When too many months have passed between adventures Boredom kicks in and I long for an adventure. It should come as no surprise that a lot of my travel memories revolve around the food that was eaten and prepared during the trip. Usually the only research I ever do before heading off to a new spot is which restaurant the locals recommend. It is not, however, the food I eat while en route that keeps me coming back for more.
Unfortunately teleporting machines have yet to be invented and thus in order to travel to a new place you actually have to travel from point A to point B. The journey often leaves me dehydrated, malnourished and exhausted, and recovering is never the way I want to spend the first day of my vacation. I have officially sworn off airplane mystery food (although I make an exception for Delta cookies) and have found that preparing a meal to pack on a plane or long car trip is a simple and delicious way to avoid that crummy feeling that can be inevitable during a long travel day. Something as simple as a homemade granola bar and an apple can go a long way. If you feel a little more ambitious you could toss some grains with a vinaigrette, crunchy veggies and some beans for a hearty salad. Speaking from experience, it's best to stick to foods that are hearty and can withstand being tossed around for a few hours. And remember, no one on the airplane wants to smell your tuna salad.
Travis and I recently lost our minds and decided to drive to Arizona to attend a good friends wedding with a Grand Canyon pit stop along the way. People who have not lost their minds would take two, maybe three, days to trek across the country, however, due to time constraints we did in one (long) shot. The decision to drive 26 hours stemmed from a feeling that we get when we think about how we only have 6 more months to do crazy things and with no one to worry about but ourselves. So, with our GPS set on the Grand Canyon and hot coffee in our mugs we took off on a Tuesday night after work, stopped for breakfast with my "aunt" Celisa in Denver, mosied through Utah and finally arrived at our hotel in Grand Canyon village at 11 pm the following evening. I knew I was going to feel like a brick fell on my head if I didn't stay hydrated and avoid gas station food at all costs. And so before we left I made a few simple meals that were nutritious but also delicious enough that we would want to stop and have a picnic instead of swinging through a drive-thru joint. Nuts, dried fruits and granola sustained us between picnic spots. And with beautiful scenery surrounding our car we picked the perfect spot to stretch our legs and nourish our grumbling stomachs. Hearty greens stand up to dressings and so I tossed chopped kale with a lemony vinaigrette before we left and it was the perfect accompaniment to pita bread stuffed with lemony chickpeas. The food I packed didn't prevent road trip induced exhaustion and we still question our insanity, but I like to think the little boost in nutrition at least helped ease the guilt of snacking on a McDonalds soft serve ice cream cone later in the day.
Parsley, Lemon and Tahini Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Tom Colicchio
1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
1/2-3/4 cup olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon Tahini paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole wheat pita bread
Drain soaked chickpeas, place in a pot and add enough water until the chickpeas are covered by about one inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until chickpeas are tender about 1-1.5 hours (test as you go so you do not over cook).
Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano and tahini paste until smooth, set aside. When chickpeas are done, drain and set aside to cool. Toss cooled chickpeas with dressing, parsley and chopped onions. Smash slightly with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Open pita pockets and stuff with chickpeas, enjoy on a picnic along the Colorado River (optional).