Air travel really used to be lots of fun. Departure and arrival at your destination were on time and a pretty decent meal was served — even in economy class!
That’s no longer true, of course. We’re all familiar with cancelled flights, hour (or more) delays, and when heaving a sigh of relief that we’re finally airborne, a soft drink and mini-bag of pretzels is supposed to satisfy. What’s a traveller to do?
Consider packing the meal of your choice. Be in control; cook at home, dine on what you like at 30,000 feet. It’s cheaper and infinitely healthier than buying fast food served up at airport concessions.
For a total meal, if you’d like, add a container of salad greens, separating the dressing to pour on as needed, a yogurt, a piece of washed fruit, cake and/or cookies. Wrap in a styrofoam container and tuck it into your carry-on bag. You’ll be the envy of whoever is squeezed into the seat next to you.
Some tips to dine well in flight.
• Do prepare a meal that will carry well and may be eaten at room temperature.
• Do not pack soups or gravy-type meals that will spill easily.
• Freeze multigrain bread sandwiches before packing so they are ready to eat by the time you’re airborne. (Multigrain bread won’t get soggy.) Place lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise (preferably in a packet) in a separate container as they don’t freeze well.
• Washed salad greens and fruits should be thoroughly patted dry with paper towels before packing into a plastic bag or container.
• Deli-cooked chicken may be substituted for homemade to save time.
• In warm weather, tuck a small ice pack (available in supermarkets and hardware stores) in the bag with your meal.
• Make sure all containers or plastic bags are clean before use.
• Do not re-use bags that have carried groceries or a bag that’s wet or stained.
• Remember to include napkins and plastic eating utensils.
• Refrigerate all items until ready to leave for the airport. Lest you forget, attach an oversized reminder note to your luggage.
Below are a half-dozen carry-on meals. The recipes may be doubled if desired.
Salmon Caesar Bagel
1 cup shredded Romaine lettuce
2 tsps. Caesar salad dressing
1⁄4 cup flaked cooked or canned salmon
2 tsps. grated Parmesan cheese
1 sesame (or other) bagel, cut in half
1 thin slice sweet onion
1 tsp. softened butter or margarine
In a small bowl, toss the lettuce, salad dressing, salmon, and Parmesan cheese. Spread cut sides of bagel thinly with softened butter or margarine (to prevent sogginess). Spoon the lettuce mixture on top of one half of bagel. Separate the sweet onion rings and add. Press remaining bagel half lightly on top. Cut in half.
Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate. Do not freeze.
A variation of a popular street food in Nice, France. Any combination of cold cuts may be used. Marinated artichokes or capers may be added as desired.
1⁄2 sheet (about 4 oz.) pareve puff pastry
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1⁄3 cup diced cooked turkey
2 Tbsps. diced salami
2 tsps. chopped black olives
2 tsps. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp. low-sodium catsup
Preheat oven to 400˚.
Place the pastry on a lightly floured board. Roll out to about 1⁄8-inch thickness. Spread one half with mustard to within 1⁄4-inch of the edge. Arrange turkey and salami over. Sprinkle with the olives and sun-dried tomatoes and drizzle catsup over.
Fold the pastry over to cover as in a turnover. Wet edges with water and press together with a fork to seal or crimp with fingers. Cut two 1-inch slashes on top to allow steam to escape. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Wrap in wax paper, then aluminum foil. Refrigerate.
Sesame Baked Chicken
1⁄4 cup thinly sliced celery
2 Tbsps. parsley sprigs
1 boneless chicken breast (5 to 6 oz.) or pieces of your choice
lemon pepper seasoning
11⁄2 Tbsps. sesame salad dressing
2 Tbsps. orange juice
Preheat oven to 350˚.
Spread celery over the bottom of a small baking dish along with the parsley. Sprinkle chicken on all sides with lemon pepper seasoning. Pierce several times with a sharp pointed knife.
Mix the dressing with the orange juice and pour over chicken. Place on top of vegetables in baking dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
Bake for 25 minutes, basting several times. Turn heat up to 400.˚ Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer until browned. Chicken is cooked when juices run clear when pierced with knife at thickest part. Cool thoroughly before placing in a tight-lidded container.
Roasted Portobello, Pepper and Provolone Sandwich
1⁄2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut in 1⁄2-inch-wide strips
1 medium portobello mushroom cap (Dice the stem. Refrigerate or freeze to use in soups or saute in an omelet.)
2 Tbsps. olive oil, divided
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 slice (1 oz.) Provolone cheese
dried crushed oregano
2 slices multigrain bread, toasted
Place red pepper and mushroom cap, frilly side down, on a small baking sheet or broiler pan. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and pepper.
Broil 3 to 4 minutes until the red bell pepper is beginning to brown and mushroom has lost its raw look when pierced. Red pepper may be done before the mushroom. Remove and set aside.
Brush one side of a toasted bread slice with remaining olive oil. Cover with the cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Arrange the red pepper and mushroom cap over the cheese. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
Press remaining bread on top. Cut in half. Cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. Remove from freezer when you leave for the airport.
Ethel G. Hofman is a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Email her at: [email protected] .