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Beyond the PB&J -- delicious road trip sandwiches to feed the crew

Road Trip

Beyond the PB&J -- delicious road trip sandwiches to feed the crew

Beyond the PB&J -- delicious road trip sandwiches to feed the crew
Deanna Fox prepared a picnic lunch perfect for tail gating on Collins Lake in Scotia Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

One of the best things about traveling is all the food sampled and indulged in along the way.

When it comes to road trips, the backseat snacks are a staple that can range from gas station grab-and-gos to homemade treats paired with coffee in a reusable travel mug. We each have our favorites, like tough and chewy jerky to potato chips to an entire package of Twizzlers.

Sometimes, though, the road trip hankerings err towards something a bit more filling and hearty. A good sandwich, perhaps, and one that allows you to reach into the cooler, sit perched in the hatch of the car or on a blanket on a patch of grass with a scenic overview, and enjoy a readymade meal on the cheap without having to Yelp your way to finding a decent lunch spot.

Cover-Icon.jpgNo one can deny the timeless appeal and utility of a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but why not throw something a bit more sophisticated together to bring along for the ride? With about the same effort as smearing sticky peanut butter on bread with a smattering of jam, our recommendations for road trip sandwiches are easy to make and don’t require extra refrigeration./p>

A few tips to keep in mind in your travels: while these sandwiches are designed to be kept at room temperature for a few hours in the car, their shelf life can be extended if kept with ice in a cooler. Juice pouches can spend a night in the freezer and then added to the cooler as edible ice packs.

We’ve found that the best wrapping for “road sammies” is waxed paper, parchment paper, or beeswaxed fabric food covering that sticks to itself. Use masking or painters tape to secure wrapping, or try twine! Reusable packaging is a smart and eco-friendly way to travel -- wash the containers and use them for snacks on the return trip or to bring home trinkets from your travels.

Choose ingredients that are delicious (and won’t spoil) at room temperature or after a few hours in the car. That means sour cream is out, but aged cheese is in. Cured meats tend to hold better than most other deli options, and think outside the sandwich box for treats that also travel well, like empanadas and fat, tender soft pretzels.

Whatever you choose to pack, remember our motto: have cooler, will travel. The edible options are endless, and the road is open ahead.

062018-tailgate-04.jpg(Photo by Peter R. Barber/Gazette Photographer: Deanna Fox prepared a picnic lunch perfect for tail gating on Collins Lake in Scotia Wednesday, June 20, 2018.)

Deanna Fox is a food and agriculture journalist. @DeannaNFox


Ham Sandwich Classico

Makes 2 sandwiches


1 baguette, cut into 2 6-inch sections

4-5 tablespoons good quality butter, softened

Salt and pepper

Cured ham (Iberico, country ham, prosciutto, etc.)

1 handful of arugula, washed and dried


Slice the baguette sections lengthwise in half. Spread a tablespoon (more or less to your liking) of butter on each half of the baguettes, then sprinkle salt and pepper (try a Himalayan pink salt, crunchy Maldon sea salt, or a fresh-cracked tri-color peppercorn mix) over the butter, to taste. Layer slices of cured ham over the butter, then a bit of arugula (raw red onions are wonderful here, too) on the ham. Sandwich back together for two 6-inch sandwiches and wrap for travel. Best served at room temperature.



Makes eight large empanadas


For the dough

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup ice water

For the filling

1 pound ground beef or pork

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 jalapenos, minced (remove seeds and rib for less heat)

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes

1 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (to make an egg wash)


To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles peas and sand. Add just enough water to bring dough together (five to seven tablespoons). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in  the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, cook the meat in a skillet until no longer pink and break into small pieces. Add onion and jalapenos and cook until soft (about five minutes). Stir in the chili powder and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in the cilantro. Allow to cool slightly.

Once the dough has chilled and rested, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough into and six-inch round. Gently roll each circle into a slight oval shape – it will allow you to get the maximum amount of filling in while still being able to seal the empanada.

Divide the filling evenly among rounds, spreading it over half of each and leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Brush the borders with a little water, then fold the top halves over filling to enclose completely. Press edges to seal with your fingertips, then crimp firmly with a fork.

At this point, empanadas can be frozen on a baking sheet until firm, then placed in a freezer bag and kept in the freezer for up to three months, if desired.

To bake the empanadas (fresh or frozen), place them on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash (just the tops - avoid the edges). Bake until golden brown, rotating the sheet half-way through, for 30-40 minutes. Serve hot with chimichurri sauce (recipe follows).


Soft Pretzels

Makes eight large pretzels or 16 smaller pretzels


1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

3 ounces unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour

Vegetable oil, enough to coat a bowl

3 quarts water

2/3  cup baking soda

1 egg (mixed with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash)

Coarse sea salt


Combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, yeast, and butter in a bowl and mix until combined (if using a stand mixer, use a dough hook). Let sit for five minutes.

Add the salt and flour to the mixture and mix until combined. Continue to mix/knead in the bowl until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface, and knead into a ball with your hands.

Coat a large bowl with vegetable oil; add the dough and turn to coat. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size (about one hour).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring the 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope. To shape into pretzels, take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up.

Slowly add the baking soda to the boiling water. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, two at a time for 30 seconds, slashing the tops with the bowling water using a spoon. Remove with a large, flat slotted spatula or a spider. Place pretzels on a baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between each pretzel, and brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the coarse salt. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown. Remove pretzels from the baking sheet and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Mozzarella Skewers

Makes 8 skewers


16 ounces fresh mozzarella (one large log cut into 1-inch chunks or smaller bocconcini balls)

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 bunch fresh basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

8 wooden skewers


For each skewer, evenly alternate mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil (try wrapping the basil around pieces of mozzarella or tomatoes before skewering) onto the skewer. Place in a zip-top back or other container, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Will keep at room temperature for one day, or refrigerate before serving.


Veggie Burritos

Makes 4 burritos


4 6-inch soft taco shells

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cooked rice (whatever variety you like)

1/2 cup salsa

Hot sauce (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Place the taco shells in a low oven (“warm” setting or around 200 degrees Fahrenheit) and allow to warm slightly so that they are easier to wrap.

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add the olive oil, bell pepper and red onion with a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until the onion and pepper are softened but not mushy. Add the black beans, rice, salsa, hot sauce, cumin and more salt and pepper (to taste). Allow all ingredients to warm, then remove from heat.

Remove the taco shells from the oven and add one-quarter of the veggie and rice mixture to each. Add one-quarter of the cheese to each. Roll each shell like a burrito, folding one side over the filling, then tucking the ends in towards the center, and then rolling tight. Wrap in parchment or wax paper and secure with tape or twine. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve or allow to come to room temperature before eating.

Chickpea Pita Pockets

Makes 2 sandwiches


1 can chickpeas (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 avocado, diced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

1 pita, cut in half and opened to form a pocket

Lettuce or other vegetables (optional)


In a bowl, use a fork to mash together the chickpeas and avocado. Add the lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste and thoroughly mix.

Place lettuce or vegetables inside of each pita pocket (if using), then spoon the chickpea mixture into each pocket. Wrap, store and serve. (Keeps well at room temperature for several hours.)

Ploughman Cheese and Pickle Sandwiches

Makes 2 sandwiches


4 slices hearty (seeded, if preferred) wheat bread

4 tablespoons pickled fruit chutney

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into slices


Spread 2 tablespoons of chutney each on 2 slices of bread. On the other 2 slices of bread, spread 1 tablespoon of mustard on each. Layer the cheddar cheese evenly on each slice of bread, then sandwich together so that each sandwich has cheese, chutney and mustard. Wrap and serve.

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