Four clever recipes to make your next road trip more delicious

These campfire nachos can be topped with virtually any ingredients.
These campfire nachos can be topped with virtually any ingredients. Photo: Hardie Grant Travel

For Dutch caterers Arno and Mireille Van Elst, road trips represent long roads, good conversation and a roaring engine. They also mean making friends, cooking together and sharing meals. 

And whether you're a van lifer, camper or hiker, there's no reason you can't eat well.

Arno and Mireille Van Elst's new book.
Arno and Mireille Van Elst's new book. Photo: Hardie Grant Travel

"You can make tasty and nutritious meals in a simple way, even when you don't have a fully equipped kitchen or well-stocked supermarket nearby," they write in their new book Road Trip Cooking.

Here, the couple share four campfire recipes that can be easily adapted for a barbecue or stove in the case of fire restrictions, and a variety of ingredients on hand. 

Campfire nachos

This nacho pizza with chips for a crust is superb! You can literally top it with anything. Also handy for when you're on the go and need to finish up your leftover vegetables, meat and fish from the last meal.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ tbsp (12g) full-cream butter 
  • ½ tbsp (7ml) olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 100ml (⅜ cup) cream
  • 100ml (⅜ cup) milk
  • 75g (⅔ cup) parmesan cheese 
  • salt and pepper
  • red chilli flakes, to taste
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips 
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 75g (⅔ cup) chorizo, in cubes 
  • 50g (¼ cup) pitted black olives, in slices
  • 1 capsicum (pepper), in cubes
  • 1 spring onion (scallion), in rings
  • 75g (⅔ cup) grated cheese

Equipment:

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  • Cast-iron pan

METHOD

  1. Make a good fire.
  2. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic.
  3. Add cream and milk and bring to the boil while stirring.
  4. Add the parmesan, chilli flakes and salt and pepper, and simmer and stir to a sauce consistency. Remove from the fire.
  5. Put the tortilla chips in a cast-iron pan and pour the sauce over. Scatter the remaining ingredients over the chips and top with cheese. Put the pan on the fire. Warm up with the lid on for five to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the vegetables are warm.

Note: Distribute the ingredients over and between the tortilla chips so you can taste all the flavours with each bite.

Bread from a tin 

Keep yesterday's empty bean stew tin to bake bread the next day. Of course, it's fun to make bread dough from scratch, but when you're on the road it can be tricky to find some of the ingredients – there's no shame in using a bread mix.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pack of bread mix and the ingredients needed as indicated on the bread-mix packet
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp (30g) oat flakes or bran

Equipment:

  • 2 clean and empty tins
  • Dutch oven

METHOD

  1. Make a fire and wait until it smoulders so you can put the Dutch oven on it.
  2. Make the dough according to the instructions on the bread-mix packet. Knead the dough so it's smooth and elastic.
  3. Grease the inside of the tins using the olive oil – be careful not to cut yourself as the edges may be sharp.
  4. Make two small rolls from the dough, big enough to fit in the tins.
  5. Use a spoonful of oats to dust the inside of each tin. This will help the bread come out more easily once it's baked.
  6. Place the dough in the tins. Cover with a tea towel and leave dough to rise for 10 minutes. Place the Dutch oven on the bed of coals to pre-heat.
  7. Put the tins inside the Dutch oven, cover with a lid and leave the bread to bake for about 40 minutes.
  8. You can also use this technique with a barbecue. Heat to approximately 180C and cover with a lid or place a pan upside down over the tins.
  9. Serve with homemade jam or a local cheese.

Serves: 4

Couscous salad with prunes and goat's cheese 

This recipe is one of our road trip favourites. You pour some boiling water over the couscous and then all you do is wait a little. It's particularly quick when you use ingredients that don't require a lot of cutting and chopping. Use up what's leftover and use local products or your favourite taste combinations.

INGREDIENTS

  • 400ml (2 cups) water or vegetable stock 
  • 250g (1¹⁄5 cups) couscous
  • 2 tbsp (30g) raisins
  • 5 dried prunes, cut into pieces
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 200g (2 cups) small tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, de-seeded, cut into cubes
  • 2 tbsp (30g) chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp (15g) cinnamon
  • ½ tbsp (4g) cayenne pepper 
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 150g (1 cup) soft goat's cheese

METHOD

  1. Bring the water to the boil (or use vegetable stock for an even tastier option).
  2. Add the couscous, raisins and prunes into a pot and pour the boiling water over top. Close the lid and leave to stand for approximately eight minutes or until the liquid  has been absorbed.
  3. Fluff the couscous with a fork and let it cool down. Add the remaining ingredients. Add a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Combine well and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Crumble the cheese on top and serve.

Note: This is a tasty dish served with a yoghurt dip and fresh bread.

S'mores with marshmallows and strawberries

I would have sworn that the word s'more is originally Scandinavian. It sounds incredibly Swedish, right? While making this book I discovered that the s'more is American and comes from "some more", which is, of course, difficult to pronounce with a mouth full of sticky sweetness. We thought up some different versions of s'mores that are even better than the original.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 big bag of marshmallows
  • 1 packet of plain, sweet biscuits
  • 1 large bar of chocolate, grated
  • 1 punnet of strawberries (or raspberries), sliced
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced fudge, in small pieces
  • 1 jar of peanut butter

Equipment:

  • aluminium foil
  • long twig/skewers

METHOD

  1. Make a campfire.
  2. Lay the biscuits out on a piece of aluminium foil and add a generous amount of chocolate to each one. Top with fruit, peanut butter and fudge.
  3. Thread the marshmallows on a stick and hold them over the fire. They're ready when they puff up and turn light brown.
  4. Use a biscuit to slide the cooked marshmallow onto another biscuit. Gently squeeze the marshmallow down and sandwich together with one of the prepared biscuits. The hot marshmallows will melt the other ingredients, which tastes divine.

Note: Use leftover wraps instead of biscuits. Place all the ingredients over one wrap and place a second one on top.

This is an edited extract from Road Trip Cooking by The Holy Kauw Company, Arno and Mireille Van Elst, published by Hardie Grant Travel, RRP $29.99. Buy now