I'm gearing up to hop a plane for a vacation abroad. While most people fret about nabbing window or aisle, my thoughts are on what I will bring on board to eat. After reading more than a few horror stories about in-flight cuisines, I stopped depending on airplane meals long before they thought to make passengers pay for them -- as if! The food served on planes is notoriously high in calories and salt, so not ideal fare for dealing with dehydration from high altitudes and possible jet lag. Plus, bringing my own food lets me eat what I want when I'm hungry.
The trick with bringing your own food is to find something compact -- you don't want to waste a whole carry-on bag packing your edibles -- but not too perishable or fragile. Wraps are a favorite of mine. I spread on a thin layer of pesto on a whole wheat tortilla and stuff it with roasted veggies (eggplant, squash and zucchini are at the top of my list this time around). In the past, I've played with a dijon chicken filling, sprouts and jalapeno hummus and barbecued tofu with corn and romaine. Wraps are compact and can even fit into the beverage cozy of my carry-on if I find myself strapped for space. I'm also toying with the idea of chicken in lettuce wraps to spice things up.
As an accompaniment, I enjoy roasting edamame (recipe follows). If I don't have time to make the edamame, almonds are a portable alternative. I also like to mix together trail mix. I combine almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, dried cherries and, when I'm feeling indulgent, chocolate chips.
That brings me to the final part of my essential flying fare. Desserts are the easiest part about plane food. I usually pack cookies or a sweet fruit muffin. If you're a fruit-lover, try to peel oranges, slice apples and otherwise prepare things in advance so that you're not stuck with extraneous garbage in your lap when you finish eating.
Spicy Roasted Edamame
Adapted from Karen Caplan
1 package (12 ounces) frozen shelled edamame
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Toss to coat. Arrange the beans in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until the beans begin to brown. Serve hot as a vegetable side dish or cooled as a snack. Leftovers can be refrigerated.
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