When my friends and I go camping, the food planning comes first. Once we've figured out who's making every appetizer, cocktail, main dish, and dessert, we focus on other details like who's bringing bug spray and how to get where we're going.
So for this week's campfire fiesta, I'm forgoing invitations in favor of a flurry of emails to work out the logistics. September is prime camping time: It's just getting summery in Northern California, while the more scorching regions of the country are cooling off. This Mexican-tinged menu celebrates the last days of Summer by featuring lots of fresh produce.
To start, I'm offering tortilla chips served with a gourmet caramelized black bean "butter" and store-bought pico de gallo. Some chips will inevitably get crushed in transit, so we'll put those into the main dish — tamale chicken packets — which cook over the fire with little effort. I'll also be grilling corn, brushed with lime and feta cheese, and a jicama-mango salad that you can make in advance and assemble on site. To get the recipes, read more.
- Appetizers, Dips
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chopped onion
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Makes 3 cups.
- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 10 minutes or until golden.
- Place onion, beans, vinegar, cocoa, salt, and paprika in a food processor; process until smooth.
- Place bean mixture in a bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.
CALORIES 17(2% from fat); FAT 0.4g (sat 0.1g,mono 0.2g,poly 0.0g); IRON 0.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 3.1g; SODIUM 48mg; PROTEIN 0.7g; FIBER 0.8g
- Salads, Other
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped peeled jícama (about 1 lb)
2 mangoes, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb Napa cabbage, sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
1 head romaine (1 1/2 lb), torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 2- by 1/4-inch sticks
1 cup toasted salted pumpkin seeds
Dressing may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. You can prepare salad ingredients 1 day ahead and keep in separate sealed plastic bags, chilled.
- Make dressing: Whisk together juice, honey, vinegar, and garlic. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss together jícama, mangoes, cabbage, romaine, and cucumber with dressing to taste.
- Serve salad sprinkled with pumpkin seeds.
- Side Dishes, Grains
4 ears of corn
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 ounces finely grated feta cheese
- Heat grill to high or build campfire to medium flame.
- Soak corn in cold water, turning occasionally, 10 minutes.
- Transfer to grill or fire. Cover; cook, turning, until husks are charred, 10 minutes. Remove.
- Using a kitchen towel, pull back husks; remove and discard corn silks. Return corn to grill (with husks pulled back and off heat). Cover; cook, turning, until kernels are charred in spots, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Combine reduced-fat mayonnaise, lime juice, and chili powder; brush on cooked corn. Dust with finely grated feta cheese. Season with coarse salt; serve with lime wedges.
- Main Dishes, Poultry
4 sheets (12x18-inches each) Reynolds aluminum foil
1 can (15.25 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives
2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/4 pounds), cut in 1/2–inch strips
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 450°F or build campfire with medium flames and a base of hot wood coals.
- Center one-fourth of corn on each sheet of foil with non-stick (dull) side toward food. Top with green pepper, olives, tortilla chips and half of salsa. Add chicken; sprinkle with onion salt and chili powder. Top with remaining salsa.
- Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make four packets.
- Place next to fire or on hot coals, but not directly in flames. Cook 12 to 14 minutes then check chicken for doneness. Sprinkle with cheese before serving. Serve with additional salsa and crushed chips, if desired.
Nutrition Information (Per Serving):
27 grams fat
108 milligrams cholesterol
1703 milligrams sodium
57 grams carbohydrates
45 grams protein