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The DIY Basket

From chef and veteran hiker Bill Telepan, a menu for four that can withstand a cross-country trek and emerge from plastic containers unscathed and delicious.

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(Photos: Shimon and Tammar)  

Melon Salad
2 cups 1-inch-dice watermelon
2 cups 1-inch-dice cantaloupe, honeydew, or muskmelon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Juice and grated zest of 2 limes
1 bunch red or breakfast radish, washed and thinly sliced (about 8 radishes)

Put the 4 cups of melon in a bowl, add salt, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Just before packing, add the lime juice and zest and stir in the sliced radishes.

Tip: Slice the melon the day before, but don’t add the salt until the morning of your outing. The watermelon-lime juice that’s left in the bottom of the bowl makes a refreshing drink.


Eggplant Wraps With Caponata
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 red peppers
4 large tortillas
1 cup arugula

To make the caponata: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté until tender and golden, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the tomato paste, vinegar, and sugar, and cook until thick. Add the chopped tomato and cook until the tomato is warm. Set aside to chill.

Preheat broiler. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons oil with the garlic. Arrange the eggplant on a sheet pan and brush the slices with the garlic oil on one side and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to allow the eggplant to absorb the oil. Set the peppers under the broiler until the skins char and blacken on all sides; place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for about 15 minutes. Remove the charred skin, stem, and seeds from the peppers and tear into large slices. Place the eggplant under the broiler until lightly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Put the eggplant and peppers on a platter and allow to cool.

To construct the wraps: Layer eggplant slices and peppers on a tortilla, spread with caponata, and top with arugula. Fold 2 sides of the tortilla over the arugula and roll up like a burrito. Cut in half.


Tuna-and-chickpea salad
4 tablespoons finely chopped Parsley
4 teaspoons finely chopped shallots
4 teaspoons capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic 1 anchovy, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
2 cans high-quality tuna, packed in olive oil, drained

Mix the chopped parsley and shallots in a small bowl. With the side of a chef’s knife, mash the capers, garlic, and anchovy together to form a paste. Add the paste to the parsley and shallots and stir in the oil until combined. Season to taste and set aside. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and lightly mash with the back of a spoon. Break the tuna into chunks and add to chickpeas. Stir in the parsley-caper mixture and combine. Check the seasoning, and allow to sit for at least 1 hour before serving.


Oatmeal-Peanut-Butter Bars
1/4 pound butter
1 cup honey
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325. Melt butter and 1/2 cup honey in a small saucepan, add the oats and peanuts, and mix thoroughly. Spread on a sheet pan and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure the oats do not burn around the edges. Allow to cool before transferring to a bowl. In another saucepan, place the remaining 1/2 cup honey, peanut butter, and sugar and melt over medium heat, stirring until completely melted. Pour over oat mixture and blend well, then set aside to cool. Spray an 8-by-8-inch pan with vegetable oil. Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal and transfer to the pan, pressing and smoothing the surface. Cut into squares when cold.

Tip: These can be made a week ahead and stored in an airtight container.

Farro-Tabbouleh Salad
5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, plus 1/4 teaspoon mashed garlic
1 cup farro (pearl barley can be substituted)
2 cups vegetable stock or water
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup julienned mint

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and the chopped garlic, and sauté until tender. Stir in the farro, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook very slowly, 20 to 30 minutes, adding additional boiling water as needed if the grain becomes dry. While the farro is still warm, add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon mashed garlic, and lemon juice and mix together. When cool, stir in the parsley and mint and season to taste. Allow the salad to sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

Tip: Cook the farro the day before and prepare the other ingredients; mix it all together the morning of your picnic.


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