When you travel as a family, it can be expensive to eat out for every meal. If you choose to stay in a vacation home, you typically have access to a full kitchen which allows for meal preparation. But while you want to save money, you certainly don’t want to forget where you are, so consider using local ingredients to make those meals more special.
With travel limited right now, many families are looking for ways to experience other cultures without actually flying. These island-inspired easy vacation meals are for you, too. Many of these ingredients are becoming easier to find on the mainland, meaning you can enjoy these easy vacation meals when you are in staycation mode as well.
In Hawai’i, sweetbread is ubiquitous, the result of Portuguese immigrants bringing over their family recipes generations ago. Indeed, the Big Island is where Robert Taira first started what is now King’s Hawaiian Bakery. On island, you have your choice of purveyors of sweet bread, including Punalu’u, the bakery that is the southernmost in the US. Punalu’u breads may be ordered online and shipped.
On the mainland, the market is dominated by King’s. Regardless, if you haven’t used this soft, sweet bread as the base for French toast, you are missing out. Dip 6 thick-cut slices of sweet bread in a mixture of 4 beaten eggs, ¾ cup whole milk, a shake of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla. Allow each slice to rest for a minute or two before pan-frying in a combination of 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons neutral oil. Serve with bananas, or other fruit of your choice, and coconut syrup.
If you haven’t tried grilling your pizza, then here’s why you should give it a try. At home, you can use part of your Tartine bread dough to make pizza, but on vacation I think you’ll find the no-knead pizza dough from Jim Lahey to be the easiest. Top with lightly pan-fried Hawaiian-style Portuguese sausage, if you can find it (try near the kielbasa and other packaged sausages in larger or specialty markets). Use sliced ham and fresh or frozen pineapple if you can’t find it.
It’s a twist on Taco Tuesday when you put sliced grilled flank steak in your homemade tortillas. Skip the cheese this week, and instead, top with pineapple or mango salsa for an island-inspired treat. Want an even simpler option? Chop the cooked and rested steak into small bite-sized pieces and serve on nachos instead.
Swap shoyu for the soy sauce in your flank steak marinade, use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and you can have a delicious dinner coming off the grill at home or away. Serve with Japanese-style rice (see below) and some simple mac salad.
In Hawai’i – and certain coastal areas of the mainland – you can buy great poke, or fresh fish to make your own. Cook up some premium Japanese rice in your instapot (gently rinse 2 cups of rice, drain, then cover with water up to the first knuckle on your finger; allow to rest in the instapot; pressure cook on high for 4 minutes), add a shake or two of furikake, and you are set. If getting your hands on fish fresh enough to eat raw poses a problem, then try this island-inspired sweet potato bowl with mango salsa.
The list of ingredients is a bit long, but many of them are seasonings. The components can be made separately, and can be made ahead. That means you can assemble to finished dish in minutes.
What are your favorite easy vacation meals? Share in the comments.
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- 1 pound dry black beans
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- ⅛ tsp ground allspice
- Pinch black pepper
- Pinch cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 T olive oil or other oil
- 1 pound sweet potatoes cut into 1-inch wedges
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 mango peeled and diced
- ¼ bunch cilantro
- 1 lime juiced, zest reserved for rice
- Combine all ingredients with 5 cups of water in the instapot. Set to Bean/Chili mode for 30 minutes. Allow 10 minutes of natural release before manually releasing the rest of the pressure. Drain and serve immediately, or refrigerate or freeze in the liquid.
- Combine all seasonings. Toss sweet potatoes in oil and then seasonings. Roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
- Combine onion, garlic, mango, cilantro and lime juice with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to rest at room temperature.