If you’ve visited a city lately you know that food trucks are all the rage. Everyone from the foodies to the corporate lunch crowd are seeking out their favorite neighborhood trucks. New York City is crawling with food trucks tweeting their location and serving up fast, friendly, flavorful food – for relatively reasonable prices. From taco trucks to grilled cheese on wheels, it seems everyone wants to stand and line for their food nowadays. And if you’ve watched shows like The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network – or experienced food truck dining yourself, you know that food from a truck can be one thing: delicious! So if you are craving some food truck style eats – but want to stick around your own kitchen, here are my ten tips for having a truly foodie food truck experience at home. Without standing in line! Plus my Veggie Gyro recipe..
Ten Tips for Food Truck Eats at Home
1. Hand-held. The food you serve up should rarely come with utensils – let alone a full-fledged plate. The most authentic food truck eats will be hand-help. Burritos, sandwiches, waffles, smoothies, wraps. Secure your creation in some sturdy foil and send it out the window to be devoured. In this case, send it to the kitchen table.
2. Secret Sauce. Food trucks live and die by their authentic or unique flavors. And one sure way to create flavor is by having your very own signature secret sauce. Make it fresh and infuse it with some complex flavors. The rest of your creation will be easy! Lets say you create a spicy, creamy chipotle tahini sauce. Well slather that stuff on tofu, veggies, rice and more – no matter what is “in season” or “on sale” you will be sure to bring some flavor to the dish by not skimping on your secret sauce. Red or green, spicy or sweet, thin or chunky – make your sauce memorable! O
3. Burnt Edges. That black char. You know it, you love it. It’s what makes food truck food stand out from the slow cooked – sitting around for a while fare you might find at take-out joints. Food truck food is cooked fast and high temperatures – to ensure that everyone gets served and on their way. So you’ll want to do the same when cooking at home. Make sure your bread or tortillas have a nice black char to them. And your cooked ingredients the same. If you’re making tofu tacos – that tofu should have a nice crisp seared crust on it.
4. Made-to-Order. The best part about food truck eats is that each order is made custom – while you wait. In a flash. Your family will love this. Ask them how much sauce they each want – what ingredients to include or exclude and how they like their meal cooked. Spicy? Sweet? Custom ordering approved!
5. Crunchy Slaw. You’ll find a lot of food trucks embrace slaw. Why? Well it is flavorful, adds bulk, adds tons of flavor and actually gets better as it marinates and awaits being used up for the orders. Slaw or pickled veggies are a great alternative to using traditional greens which could easily wilt – and quite frankly don’t pack the flavor punch that a zesty zippy slaw or pickled salad would.
6. Napkins! Food truck food is meant to be a little messy. All those flavors and sauces mingling in one hand-held dish means that you are bound to need a nice pile of napkins on your side. And note to the chefs of the house: it’s perfectly OK to have a “messy” presentation. Don’t stress about keeping every last component in place. Throw it together with joy. It’s not about the presentation – it’s all about the flavor.
7. Exotic Eats. It’s true that you will find “grilled cheese” food trucks – but the sandwiches will most likely be creative spins on classic “grilled cheese” – so my advice is to try something exotic, international or at least super creative. How about falafel and pita – or maybe some fun avocado fries or a side drink of a peanut butter and jelly shake? Get creative to entice your “customers” (aka, your family) to try something new.
8. Thirsty Customers. You’ll need a few beverage options. Try homemade lemonade with a sprig of peppermint. Or maybe basil. Or perhaps some pomegranate-infused seltzer or lemon-lime soda. Creative combos are fun for your beverages.
9. Friendly Service. The fun part about food trucks is that you get to directly interact with the kitchen and sometimes even the chef! So embrace this aspect of food truck eats and let your family do the ordering and even get in on the chef action by watching (and maybe even helping to craft the meal.)
10. Dessert. Usually the food truck will offer some sort of creative or classic home-baked dessert. Maybe a simple chocolate chip cookie or brownie – or perhaps something more exotic like a lemon cheesecake cinnamon roll (as I had at a vegan food truck called the Cinnamon Snail). A single serving dessert to go is a fun treat with your meal.
One of my fave food truck recipes below..
2 pieces of white or wheat round flat-bread
6 falafel balls (you could also use seitan, tempeh or veggie burgers)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 small tomato, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced – tossed in lemon juice
2 dill pickles
2 tsp harissa OR non-spicy option: 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp vegan mayo
1. Thinly slice the onions and toss in rice vinegar. I like to let mine chill over night in the fridge to pickle a bit – but this step is optional.
2. Brush your flat-bread with olive oil and grill on until charred – I used a panini press.
3. Mix up your secret sauce
4. Prep your veggies: tomato, avocado, pickles.
5. Grill to warm your falafel balls – I pressed mine on the panini press with the flat-bread.
6. Assemble! Lay out a square sheet of tinfoil. Add the avocado, onions, falafel, pickles, tomato – drizzle some secret sauce over the filling as well as some tahini (or serve tahini on side) and close the flat-bread – wrap tightly in foil to secure. Serve!
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