If you like olives, you’ll love tapenade. Traditionally, it is Provençal spread made from Mediterranean black olives, capers, and anchovy. We like to mix it up by combining black and green olives. It can be pureed to a pesto consistency but we often leave ours a bit more chunky, closer to the olive spread in a muffuletta sandwich, the classic lunch favourite among Italian immigrants in New Orleans.

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade

It’s a must-have ingredient for our Stuffed Picnic Sandwich!

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Besides using it on a sandwich, it’s great tossed with cold or warm pasta, and tasty on slices of baguette with goat cheese. It can pep up plain quinoa, grilled vegetables, or fish.

Recipe makes about 1 cup

  • 1 – 2 cloves peeled garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 anchovies, minced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, minced
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained & roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup green olives with pimento, drained & finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp olive oil, depending on desired consistency
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients together well. If you want to omit all the chopping, place the whole ingredients into a food processor and puree until you reach the desired consistency.

Use right away or cover and keep in the fridge up to a week. Enjoy!

Muffuletta Sandwich

Muffuletta Sandwich

 

… Or as it is simply called in our household, The Big Sandwich. We’ve been making The Big Sandwich to take on picnic outings for years but discovered this last summer what a great option it makes for camping! We typically arrive at a new campsite in mid to late afternoon. It’s really nice to have an easy meal planned for that first night, or something to dig out and feed the restless troops while we set up camp. Unwrap The Big Sandwich and cut some wedges off. It’s delicious and filling. If you don’t finish the entire sandwich in one sitting, simply wrap the remainder back up and put it in the cooler for lunch or a snack the next day.

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

The sandwich is assembled in a large hollowed out loaf layered with pesto, olive spread, cheese slices, deli meats, roasted red peppers, and anything else your family enjoys. It’s prepared a day a head and wrapped up tight in the fridge overnight. This is a key step in the deliciousness of The Big Sandwich! It keeps surprisingly well for up to three days in an RV fridge or ice cooler.

There are a few tips for making the sandwich:

  • Choose a round or oblong loaf with a soft interior but firm enough crust to keep from getting too squishy and scoop it out to within 1/4-1/2 inch of the edges. Save the bread and set aside.
  • Spread a layer of pesto around the inside of the hollowed out loaf and add another spread like hummus or olive tapenade if you like (check out our recipe for homemade tapenade).
  • Thin slices of cheese create a barrier between the pesto and the fillings. Havarti, Provolone, Swiss, and Monterrey Jack are great choices. Anything that you can pick up pre-sliced and won’t crumble.
  • Use three to four meats. Traditionally, they would be all Italian or spicy Italian varieties but a good old submarine sandwich combo of ham, turkey, and bologna works, too.
  • We add a layer of roasted red peppers that have been patted dry (our video shows you how easy it is to make your own roasted bell peppers). Mild green chiles or pepperoncinis are great, too, but steer clear of items that will get mushy over time like fresh tomatoes or avocado.
  • If there is still room after the meats have been used up, tear up some of the reserved bread and toss with a little pesto or olive oil to fill the sandwich to the top. Another layer of cheese is the last thing to go on before replacing the top.
Muffuletta Sandwich

Muffuletta Sandwich

TIP: For food safety, always make sure your fridge or cooler is at a proper temp (0°-4°C/32°-40°F) but tucking an inexpensive fridge thermometer inside.

fridge-temp

When the heat of the summer zaps your energy and the last thing you want to do after a day at the beach or hiking/biking the trails, is stand in front of a stove or campfire cooking dinner, we have the solution.

On a recent camping trip, we knew the weather was going to hit high temps and that our site would be very exposed. Our tent trailer doesn’t have air conditioning, and we prefer being outside anyway. Therefore, we planned on a cold supper with a few simple ingredients.

Caprese salad is a traditional Italian first course made with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella (bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella), fresh basil, drizzled with good olive and sprinkled with salt. We like to add a grind of pepper and drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, as well.

Bring along a baguette for sopping up the juices on the platter. If you want to add extra protein, sliced salami, mild or hot, is a nice addition, although we didn’t really need it and saved most for bagel sandwiches the next day.

We asked our sommelier friend, Christopher Wilton, of The Small Winemakers Collection and Wilton Wine Consulting, for a recommendation to go with the Caprese salad. He suggested any Italian white other than Pinot Grigio.  We chose an inexpensive Soave Classico. It was spot on, light and refreshing.

Caprese Salad

If you have leftover ingredients, make a Caprese Omelet for breakfast the next morning. Delicious!

 

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian steak sauce which is interesting because it is nothing like the North American idea of steak sauce. Yet, if you top a lovely grilled steak with it, you will understand!

Chimichurri

Chimichurri

The herby flavoured sauce relies mainly on fresh parsley. Many varieties exist throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Some use oregano and others contain a lot of cilantro. We favour the cilantro/parsley combination. If you are one of the folks for whom cilantro tastes like soap (it’s a real affliction) substitute your preferred herb to go along with parsley.

What we like best about chimichurri is that it’s such an amazingly simple but versatile sauce for beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, fish, game, vegetables, and even tofu. Use it straight as a condiment, finishing sauce, basting sauce, or marinade. We’ve also mixed it with melted butter for basting vegetables and seafood. Add a spoonful to plain vinaigrette for an awesome salad dressing. It also makes a unique pizza sauce, bruschetta topping, or addition to a dip.

It blends into many cuisines. We make South American dishes with it as well as Tex-Mex (corn & black bean salad), Mexican (fish tacos), Spanish (potato & chorizo pockets), Italian (pizza & bruschetta base), Greek (souvlaki), and Thai (spicy coconut soup).

CJ Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • hot pepper or pepper flakes, optional

Snip the ends and roots off the herb bunches but keep in mind that you’ll use both the leaves and stems so you don’t have to pick the leaves off. Place the bunches in a large colander or salad spinner. rinse well, and shake or spin to dry.

Place the and garlic in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. Add about half a lemon’s worth of juice. Put the top on and drizzle olive oil through the inlet while the processor is running, until the mixture is slightly loose but not runny. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper to taste. You may need to add more lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) and olive oil.

Scrape out into a container, cover, and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

These are some of the dishes we’ve used chimichurri on…

South American Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza: Naan bread, chimichurri, smashed avocado, sliced tomato, sunny side up eggs, and chipotle hot sauce

Canned Potatoes and Chorizo with Chimichurri, Fresh Cilantro, and Grilled Lime

Brunch or Lunch Pockets: Canned Potatoes and Chorizo with Chimichurri, Fresh Cilantro, and Grilled Lime served up in Pita Pockets

Greek Dinner: Pork Souvlaki with Sautéed Onion & Bell Peppers, Tzatziki served in Pita Bread

Souvlaki Dinner: Chimichurri Marinated Pork Strips with Sautéed Onion & Bell Peppers, Tzatziki served in Pita Bread

Surf & Turf Grill: Grilled Steak Topped with Chimichurri, Grilled Lobster Tails and Corn-on-the-Cob Basted with Chimichurri Butter

Surf & Turf Grill: Grilled Steak Topped with Chimichurri, Grilled Lobster Tails and Corn-on-the-Cob Basted with Chimichurri Butter

 

 

 

Here is a vegetarian option for a camping meal that will satisfy even the hungriest carnivore. You can add grilled meat if you want to stretch this out. If adding meat, grill thinly sliced Greek pesto marinated steak, pork loin, lamp, or chicken.

 

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet or red onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 1 portobello mushroom, stem end trimmed (leave whole)
  • Greek pesto (recipe below)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1/3 cup hummus
  • 1/4 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1- 2 pitas per person, regular preferred over pocket bread
  • oil for grilling

Greek pesto

  • 2 cloves garlic, peele
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley, leaves and stems
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt & pepper

Pesto:

In a food processor, add garlic, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, and vinegar. Pulse, scraping the sides occasionally, until uniformly chopped. Drizzle in olive oil through the spout while the processor is running. Add just enough to bind the ingredients loosely. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and continue to blend. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add more lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Transfer into a container and keep covered in the fridge up to a week. You can make this ahead and freeze it, as well.

Grilled Veg Pitas

Grilled Veg Pitas (1)
Grill:

Heat a sauté pan over medium flame on a campfire, grill, or camp stove. Remove from heat and place the pitas in the pan; cover with a lid to allow them to warm and soften off the heat.

Brush oil on a medium-high campfire grate, grill, griddle, or grill pan. poon half the pesto into a cup and thin with oil to make a good basting consistency. Grill bell pepper, onion, asparagus, and mushroom, basting with pesto as they cook. Place lemon on the grill, cut side down. Turn vegetables and continue basting until they have a little char.  Set aside on a plate as they become done. Slice the portobello mushroom after grilling. Squeeze half of the grilled lemon over the vegetables.

Grilled Veg Pitas (2)

Build the pitas:

Spread pita with hummus and pesto. Layer with grilled veggies and chopped cucumber. Squeeze grilled lemon over veggies. Top with crumbled cheese. Fold pita in half and enjoy!

Grilled Veg Pitas (3)

Eggplant, zucchini summer squash, and beets would be good, too. Vegetables that you can slice into long strips before or after grilling work best in the pitas. We tried green onion (scallions) and found them too stringy.

When we’re camping, we like to make sure we have a no-fuss meal for breakfast or lunch on our last day. Something quick & light with little clean-up involved makes packing up a lot easier.

This is also a great item if you’re headed out for a hike or picnic.

Buns with cheddar, ham, apple (1)

In cooler seasons, we might use buns, but prefer bagels at other times because they keep a little bit better. Bagels are also a good option if you’re wrapping these up and packing them because they don’t squish. Jalapeño bagels are tasty if you like spicy food!

If you want to get fancy, lightly toast the sliced bagel or bun on a griddle. You can even soften the apple slices although the crunch of fresh apple adds a nice texture.

  • Firm bun or bagel, sliced in half
  • Spreadable cheddar (substitute flavoured cream cheese)
  • Thin slices honey ham or black forest ham
  • Apple, thinly sliced

Buns with cheddar, ham, apple

If you’re packing these ahead of time, assemble and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. They’ll keep unrefrigerated for a couple of hours.