For the the recovery CD, I just need the basic apps to edit text files and partition/format hard drives.
terminal (xterm is fine)
spacefm, udevil -> not sure about fuse
partitioning tools -> fdisk, cfdisk (I like the ncurses interface), the newer ones for gpt
gparted -> but with the file support for btrfs and xfs
ntfs-3g -> I have Windows machines
archive tool -> fsarchiver, p7zip-full
wicd -> or just ceni
firefox-esr -> not as buggy, doesn't get whacked by gtk
That's really all I can think of past the base system, coreutils stuff.
Do you use any specialty networking and forensics tools? Those are always handy to have. Hakerdefo probably has few favorites.
Just the basic gtk and icons, don't need any of the multimedia apps.