5 Junk-Ready Recipes That Aren’t Another Pasta Salad

By Ailee Slater

You love pasta salad. I love pasta salad. We all love pasta salad. But do we really need another pasta salad on a junk boat?

This summer, just say no to bloated cherry tomatoes, sun-limp ham and aggressively boring chunks of processed cheese; all congealed together in a starchy, undercooked clump of pasta. Because the only noodles on a junk boat should be the hot pink ones you precariously straddle while pouring yourself a plastic cup of wine and slowly drifting out to the South China Sea.

Ready to stand tall against the tyranny of pasta salad on self-catered junks?
Here are five recipes that will have you noshing in style on your next float:

Five-Layer Dip
This five-layer dip from Food Network goddess Ellie Krieger is an invigorating smack-to-the-tongue of flavor and it also hits the apex of the junk boat food Venn diagram – it’s filling, it’s tasty, and you don’t need a fork to eat it.

Ellie’s dip starts with a layer of homemade bean dip; and if you don’t have a blender, keep it rustic by smashing your beans with a potato masher or heavy mug; whatever’s on hand. Next is corn seasoned with cilantro and lime, followed by a layer of guacamole and a simple tomato salsa. Finish off with a sprinkling of cheese, and pick up a bag of tortilla chips on your way to the boat.

Lasagna
If you can prepare a pasta salad, you can prepare a pan of lasagna. Even better, because lasagna is the ultimate freeze-and-reheat food, you can make this a few days, weeks or even months ahead. Then, simply defrost when you stumble home the night before the junk, pop it in the oven while you cry in the shower in the morning, and look like a person who totally has their life together when you show up to your junk with a big ol’ pan of lasagna.

For the easiest version, use store-bought tomato sauce – but if you want to make this dish really sing, louder than that guy Steve jamming along to Taylor Swift as the boat pulls back into Victoria Harbor, use homemade sauce and don’t skimp on the fresh herbs.

Giant Sandwich
Making a sandwich? Go big or go home. Scout out a gigantic loaf of bread from one of Hong Kong’s insanely overpriced Western grocery stores, fill with meat, cheese and vegetables, then refrigerate overnight with something heavy on top to weight down the loaf. The next day, really lean into your hipsterdom by slicing and serving on a big wooden chopping board.

Chili Cheese Dip
Your morning started with the abrasive ringing of the telephone and your best friend on the other end of the line shouting WHERE ARE YOU?!?! and now you need to pick up some eats before you miss the boat. Do you:
a) Grab a bag of pizza flavored Calbee chips and call it a day
b) Bring more beer; you’ll eat when you’re dead
c) Make a 1-minute, 2-ingredient dip and impress all your friends
d) Wait though seriously WHERE AM I?!?!

Come on people. Sort out your life. C is the correct answer, and you only need two ingredients – a block of cream cheese and a jar of Thai sweet chili sauce. Grab both as you’re running to the boat; once you’re on board, plunk the cream cheese on a plate, pour over the chili sauce and serve with saltine crackers. Trust me – people will love it so much they’ll forgive you for having overslept and delayed the boat by half an hour.

Hummus Quesadillas
Can you open a plastic container? Do you know how to use a butter knife? Congratulations! You can make hummus quesadillas. Spread hummus on a tortilla, sprinkle on cheese, vegetables or any other topping of your choice, fold and slice into wedges.

The possibilities for quesadilla fillings are a wide-ranging as your imagination, albeit not quite as disturbing. This recipe recommends sautéed spinach, olive and sundried tomatoes, but you might also try a summery combination of avocado, tomato, salt and pepper; or go with feta and cucumber for a refreshing Mediterranean take on what is now definitely cultural appropriation in bite-sized form.

We are going to have a catered lunch from La Rotisserie at our Get Down Junk Boat Party but join us and feel free to bring any of this great culinary creations on board.

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