Summer Salads on the Go

Who says that planning a paddling trip means leaving your fresh fruits and vegetables behind? My buddy Eric, a passionate kayaking guide in Massachusetts, says so. Just as Dominic, another chum from B.C., who loves to leave on long canoe-camping weekends with wife Kathie and the kids. But they usually bring along only canned food and peanut butter candy bars because they’re afraid they might spoil any other type of edibles. That makes for a boring menu! It’s no wonder my friends never leave for more than a weekend expedition…

Carrying fresh foods has more to do with careful and imaginative menu planning than with a limited supply of produce that can be brought along. Especially at this time of the year, when there’s so much to choose from: fresh cucumber, snap peas, radishes, bell peppers, berries, and so on. So to prove my friends wrong, I came up with a five day planner in which salads would be the only meals on board. Not that I believe you might dream of a diet made exclusively of spinach or Greek salad; rather, I take this as a fun challenge to give you some inspiration and a sample of how filling, simple, different and interesting a salad can be. And, just like pastas or soups, they are another good example of what a meal in a bowl can be…

Rule of thumb for packing produce

All soft skin produce must be packed separately in air tight-non collapsible containers, such as yogurt or margarine containers. Root vegetables and citrus fruits will keep well in a small bucket. Dry bags are too soft and also prone to condensation, so it’s better to use them for dry goods instead.

When you pack produce without using a cooler, place the containers directly on the bottom of your kayak or canoe, so that they can benefit from the much cooler temperature of the water. Add a layer of soft insulation (towels, dry bags filled with clothes, sleeping bags, etc.) Make sure that no excessive weight bruises your precious cargo.

How long does it keep? 
Here is a list which explains how long fruits and vegetables will keep during a paddling trip with proper packing techniques. This list does not consider the use of a cooler filled with frozen items or icepacks, which would add one more “shelf day” to all these ingredients. For instance, lettuce in a cooler would keep 48 hours in total instead of 24. This list is your starting point for good meal planning.

  • To be eaten the same day (with no cooler) or within 24 hours (with a cooler): leaf lettuce, fresh spinach, fresh herbs such as leaf parsley or coriander, corn, bean sprouts, bananas, kiwis
  • To eat within 48 hours (without a cooler) or 72 hours (with a cooler): cucumber, baby tomatoes, mushrooms, green onions, radishes, snap peas, avocados, eggplants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, peaches, grapes
  • To consume within 72 hours (with no cooler) or 4 days (with a cooler): celery, broccoli, summer squash (zucchinis), cauliflower, green or yellow waxed beans, bell peppers, artichokes, rhubarb, plums, honey melon or watermelon, nectarines
  • To consume within 1 week (with no cooler) or 8-10 days (with a cooler): cabbage, potatoes, onions, fennel, fresh ginger, apples, leeks, oranges, grapefruits, lemons
  • Can be kept for 2 weeks or more: carrots, parsnips, turnips, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, beets, winter squash, dry shallots, garlic

Meal planner: a week of salads* 
-Recipes marked with a * are available at the end of the text

Day one Lunch: Asian sprouts and spinach salad with peaches and almonds*  Dinner: camper’s Caesar Salad*

Day two Lunch: Greek salad*  Dinner: Southwestern Bean salad*

Day three Lunch: Waldorf chicken salad*  Dinner: Mediterranean ratatouille with chick peas*

Day Four Lunch: tuna and honeydew melon salad*  Dinner: potato and leek salad with bacon*

Day five Lunch: Far East slaw *  Dinner: cracked wheat (bulgur) and shrimp salad *


Asian sprouts and spinach salad with peaches and almonds (2 portions)
  • One bag of baby spinach
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 peaches, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 4 tbsp unsalted soy nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
Dressing (to prepare at home, by mixing all ingredients together)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
Mix all the ingredients for the salad together, except the soy nuts and the cilantro, which you will sprinkle on top of the salad. Pour the dressing on the salad and serve.
Campers’ Caesar salad (2 portions)
  • 2 large heads of Romaine lettuce
  • 8 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tbsp vacuum packed bacon pieces
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 cup of ready to eat Caesar croutons
Dressing (to make ahead, at home):
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 dash Worcester sauce  (1tbsp anchovy paste – optional)
Tear the lettuce leaves and arrange on two plates. Add capers, bacon, croutons, parmesan cheese. Pour on the dressing and toss well. Let stand five minutes and serve.
Greek salad (2 Portions)
  • 6 oz Feta cheese
  • 2 dozens cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 small Lebanese cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 red onion very thinly sliced
  • 20 Kalamata olives
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix tomatoes and cucumbers. Crumble the Feta cheese. Add the olives and the onion rings. Pour the dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately.
Southwestern Bean Salad (2 Portions)
  • 1 10 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small can corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp dry coriander or
  • 8 tsp fresh coriander, if available
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
For the dressing:
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the salad ingredients together. Pour on the dressing, toss gently. Let cool for about half an hour and serve with corn tortillas.
Waldorf chicken salad (2 portions)
  • 1 can white chicken meat, drained
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cooked bacon, vacuum packed
  • 2 tbsp pecan nuts, crushed
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp dry parsley
  • 2 tbsp dry chive
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram
For the dressing:
    When I’m at home, I use mayonnaise. But on a kayak trip, I use:
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the salad ingredients together. Add the dressing and toss well. If you prepare this recipe within 48 hours of your departure from home, serve it on a bed of Romaine lettuce. If not, serve it with dry bread crackers.
Mediterranean ratatouille with chick peas (4 portions)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tsp dry marjoram
  • 1 tsp dry fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 summer squashes (zucchini) diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium eggplant, diced
  • 1 10 oz can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
In a skillet over medium heat, sauté all ingredients, except the chick peas, using half the olive oil, until cooked (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool. Add chick peas, the rest of the oil and the vinegar. Toss gently. Serve. If you have leftovers, save them for an omelet garnish, the next morning… Delicious!

Tuna and honeydew melon salad (2 portions)
  • 1 small honeydew melon
  • 1 large can of tuna in olive oil, drained (keep the oil for the dressing)
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 8 radishes, sliced
  • 2 dill pickles, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 tbsp dry parsley
For the dressing:
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste
On two plates, alternate melon cubes, radishes and tuna. Sprinkle with onions, pickles and celery slices. Add the dressing and serve immediately.

Potato and leek salad with bacon (2 portions)
  • 16 small red potatoes, with the skin
  • 2 large leeks (white part only), thinly diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 8 tbsp real bacon bits, vacuum packed
  • 2 tbsp capers or gherkins, diced
  • 2 tbsp dry parsley
  • 2 tbsp dry chives
  • 1 tsp dry tarragon
For the dressing:
  • 1 tbsp German mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cook leeks and potatoes together until soft. Drain and let cool in a bowl. Add celery, bacon bits, capers (or gherkins) and the herbs. Mix the dressing, pour on the vegetables and toss gently. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.
Far East slaw (4 portions)
  • 1 small cabbage, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 4 tbsp fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 large apple, diced and mixed with 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 pound of extra-firm tofu, vacuum packed
  • 8 tbsp cashews, crushed
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp hot water
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil (or sunflower)
  • One dash of pepper sauce
Mix all the vegetables together. Add the apple and the tofu. Pour in the dressing and let stand 15 minutes, tossing from time to time to mix flavors. At the last minute, divide the salad on 4 plates, add the cashews on top of each portion and serve.
Cracked wheat (bulgur) and shrimp salad (4 portions)
  • 2 cups cracked wheat (also called bulgur), rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 4 tbsp dry parsley
  • 1 large onion, thinly diced
  • 1 carrot, thinly diced
  • 2 large cans of small shrimps, rinsed and drained
For the dressing:
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a large heat-proof bowl, put the cracked wheat and all ingredients, except the shrimps. Cover and let stand for about 30 minutes. Drain and mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes to cool. Add the shrimps and the dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately.

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