Cool summer salads...cooked over the campfire

Cool summer salads…cooked over the campfire?!

In today’s post, Chef Deb Rankine, a.k.a. The Fridge Whisperer, shares the recipes for two really quick, really delicious, really healthy salads that eat like a meal.

Anyone camping for more than a few days knows space is always a concern, especially when it comes to packing the cooler. But with a little creativity and know-how, you can plan meals everyone will love while making the most of the ingredients you have to work with.

I always freeze my proteins before placing them in the cooler. Not only will this keep them fresher longer, but they act as mini ice packs as well. I like to double wrap proteins in single serving portions so if one wants chicken and the other wants steak, both will be happy campers. And speaking of chicken, you must pack it first to avoid cross contamination as the chicken slowly thaws, covering it completely with a plastic bag before adding the first layer of ice packs.

Plan your meals around the proteins that thaw the quickest. Frozen shrimp, for example, will thaw much faster than frozen boneless chicken breasts and thick ribeye steaks.

I look to recipes that are quick and easy to make and use the least amount of equipment. Dinner salads are a perfect case in point. They can be tailored to specific dietary needs and require little if no cooking.

I do, however, love the textural play of salads created with cold and hot elements; fresh and crisp, slightly soft and warm, all at the same time.

In that spirit, I give you two really quick, really delicious, really healthy salads that eat like a meal.

Grilled Romaine Salad (serves 2)

Grilled Romain Salad

This recipe doubles and triples beautifully.

  • 1 romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise through the core
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, flesh diced
  • ¼ cup crumbled sheep’s milk feta
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
  • Sprinkling of Greek dried oregano leaves
  • 4 tablespoons Creamy Herb Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  •  Thick sliced barbecued steak (optional)

Drizzle cut sides of romaine with oil, then place oiled-side-down on a grill set over medium hot coals or, alternatively, set barbecue to medium heat and grill until leaves begin to wilt and char slightly, about 5 minutes.

Transfer romaine halves grilled-side-up to dinner plates, sprinkle over tomato, avocado, feta, olive and oregano, top with steak slices, if using, drizzle with vinaigrette, and serve immediately.

Creamy Herb Vinaigrette (makes a scant ½ cup)

  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ? cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Whisk together vinegar and mustard until combined, then slowly whisk in oil a few drops at a time to achieve a creamy consistency, season to taste with salt and pepper and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Use within 5 days for optimum flavour.

Jerk Shrimp and Kale Salad (serves 4)

Jerk Shrimp Kale Salad

Not all jerk pastes are created equal. Look for bottles marked “Product of Jamaica” and you’ll be well on your way to creating this flavourful, heart-healthy dish.

  • 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves very thinly sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, peeled, segments finely diced
  • 2 oranges, peeled, segments finely diced
  • 1 Gala apple, cored and apple finely diced
  • 1 Ataulfo mango, peeled, pitted, and flesh finely diced
  • ½ cup finely diced red onion
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 tablespoon grapefruit or orange juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 20 frozen peeled and deveined shrimp (size 21-30), thawed
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican jerk paste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl, toss together kale, grapefruit, orange, apple, mango, red onion, bell pepper, green onion, fruit juices, olive oil and cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper and let salad rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow flavours to meld.

Meanwhile, pat shrimp dry with paper towel, place in a bowl, add jerk paste and vegetable oil and toss gently to coat, then thread 5 shrimp onto each skewer and grill over medium heat until they begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes per side, turning only once.

Divide salad onto dinner plates, top each with a shrimp skewer and serve immediately.

Visit our Outdoor Cooking page for more great camping recipes!