I cannot refuse an opportunity to picnic even if the occasion only involves packing a brown bag lunch to enjoy on a plane or at an airport. Last weekend I traveled to Austin, TX for my first race of the season. Had I splurge for a direct flight from Toronto, I would still spend over four hours in the air not counting the extra time for checking bags, clearing customs, and security inspection. I opted for a cheaper itinerary and ended up spending the majority of Thursday on travels. What would have been a miserable day of eating turned into a fun diversion with my full to the brim brown bag lunch.
Air Travel Picnic
My only requirement was that everything could be enjoyed as finger food. I most certainly did not want to fidget with cutlery for this menu! Sandwich was an obvious choice. Lately I am completely smitten by My New Roots. Her cooking style is similar to 101 Cookbooks with many brightly flavoured accessible vegetarian recipes. The tempeh barbari sandwich was based on her recipe. This was my first time marinating tempeh and I absolutely loved the smoky sweet taste of chipotle maple. The prepared slices of tempeh tasted so hearty with the sundried tomato pesto and green kale leaves.
The antipasto brochettes started off as a chunky salad to accompany the sandwich. However, the more I thought about the dish, the less incline I felt about packing cutlery in my lunch bag. Since everything tastes better on a stick, it was logical to create these stunning antipasto brochettes. I anchored each skewer with a chunk of chianti salami at the bottom and a cube of cumin gouda at the top. They were the sturdy stoppers that prevented the bites from sliding off the skewer during travel. Between the salami and the cheese, it was a party of flavours. There was a sundried tomato stuffed green olive, marinated portobello mushroom, roasted red pepper, cherry tomato, and marinated artichoke. The brochettes were fun to eat, beautiful to behold, and great addition to lunch bags or fancy hors d’oeuvres alike. They are already on the menu for my next party!
My fruit salad summer rolls shared a similar creative process as the antipasto brochettes. I was going to pack a simple fruit salad with chunks of papaya, mango, and strawberry dressed in minty lime syrup. It did not take long before I decided to refashion the salad as finger food. I immediately thought of rice paper salad rolls at Vietnamese restaurants. I always love the way chewy delicate rice paper showing peeks of vibrant colour fillings. I followed the excellent direction from Viet World Kitchen to create these pretty fruit salad summer rolls. Each roll was first filled with fine dices of fruit. After the first fold, I layered thin slices of strawberries, a big mint leaf, and mango matchsticks for a mosaic of colour. I served them without dipping sauce for ease of packing but I think they would be awesome with lime curd.
Last but not least on the menu was guilt-free raw brownies. The recipe also came from My New Roots. Why the lack of guilt? These cakey chocolaty treats were made from a simple mixture of Medjool dates, walnuts, cocoa powder, almonds, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and sea salt. They tasted every bit as decadent as traditional brownies but made with ingredients rich in antioxidants and healthy fats! Although I would not say no to my favourite brownie recipe, these raw brownies were lovely dessert on days I want to be good.
Air travel may not be fun but knowing that I could break up the monotony with thoughtful delicious picnic made the experience so much easier to bear. Who wants to travel with me next?