The Backcountry Chef Chronicles

ENOpians looooove to get outside and go camping. And everyone has their favorite part of camping. For some it’s trout fishing, night hiking, river rock hopping. For others it’s building the best campfire or lounging in a hammock reading a book. For me, it’s cooking. I make plenty of exceptions weight wise to haul in what I need to make the food magic happen. My fellow backpackers may poke fun at me while we’re hiking in, but they get real quiet when I’m about to serve them up some backcountry grub.

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“Fancy Backwoods Tomato Capellini”

I made this for my friends on a camping trip recently. Rather than everyone bringing their own dinner to eat separately, we divided up the ingredients and all ate together–family style. This recipe can be expanded or contracted depending on how many you want to feed. This dish is a crowd-pleaser and versatile. Add whatever you want that you think would compliment the flavors. For example, the first time I made it I had a hunk of Gorgonzola leftover from snacks earlier that day, threw it in, melted it in the sauce…yumtown.

At Home:

At home take the pasta out of the package (I always recommend angel hair because it’s lightweight and cooks fast), break once, and fill up a heavier-duty Ziploc bag with it. Prep on this one is pretty easy because the recipe doesn’t call for meat. If you do want to add meat to this dish, I recommend ground turkey breast–it will give it that “meat sauce” texture, but it’s a healthier and leaner  meat. Anyways, you can cut up your veggies and freeze them, but they will be fresher it you wait. Just be sure to put them some place in your pack where they won’t get too beat up.

Tip: Seasonings and olive oil store well in miniature toiletry containers or re-used mini liquor bottles.

chef-chronicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 regular sized box of angel hair pasta
  • 1 red onion
  • 2-3 bell peppers
  • 1 small package of fresh mushrooms
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (bonus: bring one fresh tomato to add if you’re feeling extra authentic.)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small hunk of hard Parmesan cheese
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil

 

Cook it:

You can cook this one on the stove or in the fire. Either way, it will be delicious. Chop up your veggies at the site. Chop one of the bulbs of garlic coarsely so it doesn’t burn. Add that clove, onion, and pepper into pot with a bit of oil. Cook for just a few minutes. The name of the game here is to halfway cook these veggies, so when we add them to the pot later they can finish cooking in the sauce and hopefully will turn out just right.  For these final moments, add the mushrooms–they don’t take long. Removed veggies from pot, put aside.

Now boil some water, and add the pasta. Again, we will be simmering later so you don’t have to fully cook the pasta. When you’re feeling good about the pasta, drain the water out. Here’s the fun part!! Slowly add the evaporated milk and the tomato sauce. Use common sense to get your proportions right. Mince up the rest of your garlic and add to sauce and pasta. Stir and simmer. When you have a rich color going, add the veggies to finish cooking. Sit, simmer, and stir until you’re ready to eat. Add parmesean and fresh basil to garnish. Then sleep very well under the stars.