Tiffin Lunch – Summer Road Trip

Chickpea Flour Pasta & Barley Salad + Roasted Broccolini:

Ever since I was a child, any trips by road or rail were all about the food. I love rail travel, but we don’t do it enough now, I miss the anticipation of settling into the rhythm of the rocking train, waiting for Mummy to spread out a large kitchen towel, open up the multi-tiered steel tiffin, and all of us eating while balancing our cups of fresh yogurt shakes poured into steel cups from a large mason jar. And most of all, the din of the vendors who’d approach our windows at each station, selling fresh chai, ripe guavas, crisp cucumbers slit open and sprinkled with a chili salt.

Even now, when I travel, it’s all about the food. Whether the food I made at home for the trip, or visiting the local vendors to try their wares, and bringing home any specialities that helps prolong my favorite memories from that journey long after the trip is over.

The one trip we take each year is to see family across the two great states of Massachusetts and New York, from Boston to Buffalo. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, that’s a long drive, and what disappoints this foodie, is that most of the rest stops along I-90 offer mostly the staple rest-stop foods. Which is a pity, because both these states’ are known for some superb artisanal foods, but that’s a story for roads less travelled.

To ensure we eat well and healthy on this long road-trip every year, I pack a picnic style lunch, usually consisting of something that will entice my husband’s palette, and sneak in the protein and veggies I desire.

A tiffin is a light mid-day meal as defined by the dictionary, coined by the British, adopted by India.

Herbs from Maison Coté, Vancouver, CA
Herbs from Maison Coté, Vancouver, CA

Here’s a tiffin lunch that’s hearty and travels well; using some exciting new pasta I discovered recently by a brand called Explore Cuisine, my favorite nutty pearl barley and a great herb mix I picked up at the Vancouver, Granville Island Public Market from the most friendly proprietor Jean-Pierre Coté of the Maison Coté.

Grilled veggies
Grilled veggies, so colourful…

Pasta Salad Serves 4-6

    1 cup Explore Organic Chickpea Fusilli
    1 cup pearl barley
    1 cup roasted mushrooms
    1 cup roasted peppers
    ½ cup roasted zucchini
    ½ cup roasted red onion
    2 tbs. chopped olives
    2 tbs. chopped canned artichokes
    2 tbs. chopped parsley
    6-8 mini-red sweet peppers for garnish
    2 tbs. shredded Parmesan for garnish

Broccolini or Broccoli Rabe Serves 2-4

    1 bunch broccolini
    1 tsp. olive oil
    salt and fresh black crushed pepper to taste
Chickpea Fusilli by Explore Cuisine
Chickpea Fusilli by Explore Cuisine

Simple Vinaigrette – Makes Approx. 4 oz.

    1.5 oz. balsamic vinegar
    1.5 oz. champagne vinegar
    1 tbs. Dijon mustard
    1 tsp. honey
    ½ tsp. garlic powder
    1½ tsp. Maison Coté herb mix
    1 tsp. salt
    ½ tsp. fresh black crushed pepper
  1. Cook the chickpea pasta and barley separately as per cooking instructions, drain and set aside.
  2. Wash and prep the mushrooms, peppers and zucchini into small bites for the grill, season with some olive oil, salt and pepper
  3. For the broccolini, clean and trim the stems, grill with some olive oil, salt and pepper and some fresh crushed garlic
  4. Tip: I use an indoor table-top grill so can chop the veggies small and throw them on straight, if you’re using an outdoor grill, put them on a veggie roasting tray before putting them on the grill

    Onions and broccolini
    Onions and broccolini prep…

  5. Roast veggies until they’re nice and charred but still retain a little bite
  6. Chop fresh parsley and grate the Parmesan while the veggies roast
  7. For the vinaigrette, pour all the ingredients into a dressing bottle or mason jar, shake vigorously until the oil and vinegars have emulsified
  8. Tip: I use one of those convenient OXO salad dressing shakers, the measurements are right on the bottle, and it stores any extras and lasts me the week.
    Tip: The honey helps hold the vinaigrette together, the oil and vinegar do not separate as quickly.
    Tip: Crush the herbs between your palms before adding them to the jar to release their flavors

  9. Combine the cooked pasta, barley, and the roasted veggies except the broccolini, fresh parsley and half the vinaigrette in a large bowl
  10. Tip: Doing this while the veggies and pasta are still a little warm helps them absorb the flavors better

  11. Garnish with Parmesan and the mini sweet red peppers from your favorite deli

This nutritious and delicious pasta salad with the roasted broccolini trumps any rest-stop burger or limp salad bar. Since it does not have any mayonnaise, it’s safer for any warm picnic day as well.

Pack that cooler with a bottle of an Italian lime soda or your favorite seltzer. Armed with the food and my favorite Bollywood tracks on the playlist, I’m game for any trip, this side of the continent.

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