Eat Locally, Even When You Hit the Trail (or ‘How to Really Torture a Tomato’)

A gourmet meal, fit for a tired hiker -Summer is here and it’s time to go out and enjoy nature. Chances are that you’re packing up to go explore some of the wonderful scenery that our area has to offer. If you’re going backpacking, you might find yourself staring at packaged foods, lost and wandering through the grocery store, as your prepare for your trip. There I was, reading instant rice packages and browsing the bulk aisle for the least worst option. After about an hour of aimless indecision, I had a revelation. Why, especially when I’m going out to enjoy the depths of nature, should I compromise on the way that I like to eat? Why couldn’t I take my love of local food on the trail? I must admit that these questions sent me down a rather involved road, but believe me when I tell you just how good my meals tasted when I was dirty and tired on the top of the mountain.

I spent the most time thinking about the main meals. For the mornings, I add apples (that I dehydrate at home), local hazelnuts, milk powder, and brown sugar to instant oatmeal. This is more cost effective than buying individual, prepackaged portions and tastes better too. For lunch, I stocked up on Trailhead cheese, raw green beans, and a hearty loaf of dense bread. And then, it was time to consider what to have for dinner. I eyed the beautiful tomatoes sitting on my counter. Did I dare? Could I really? I decided to give it a shot. After roasting, blending, and dehydrating, I had a sauce that I could take on the trail. I hand-rolled and dehydrated some fresh pasta to go with it. When I was finished, I had a meal that was local, organic, packable, and delicious. All I needed to complete the feast was a rock to sit on.

At Home

Roasted Vegetable Sauce

Yields: 2 cups of sauce which makes 2 dehydrated rolls (One roll will liberally sauce two portions of pasta.)

1 pint small tomatoes, sliced into chunksChop the vegetables.
1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into 2-inch chunks
1 onion, sliced into 2-inch chunks
4 cloves garlic, whole
olive oil, salt, pepper

On a baking sheet lined with parchment, mix tomatoes, zucchini, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Roast in oven at 450F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and add garlic in the center of the sheet. Roast 15 minutes more. Blend in food processor.It's a good idea to cool sauce before dehydrating.

Spread sauce out onto plastic tray of an dehydrator. (If you don’t have a plastic tray, cut parchment paper to fit on your regular tray.) Be careful to spread it as evenly as possible. Dry at 135F for 8 hours (or until completely dry.) Cut, if necessary, into two pieces and roll.

Pasta for the Trail

Yield: 4 portions of pasta

8 ½ ounces flour (and more to use while working the dough)
3 medium eggs
1 tbls. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt

Mix dry ingredients. With a fork, stir in eggs and oil. Knead dough for about 5 minutes. Make a ball. Cover with plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes. Cut ball in two, leaving one piece in the plastic. Flatten, sprinkle with flour, and fold like a letter. Flatten and run through machine a series of times. Roll to setting 6 and cut with fettuccine cutter.

Separate and lay strands in a dehydrator. Dehydrate at 135F for 1 ½ hours.

Package dried pasta in a bag with a little salt, so that it’s all ready to go. Pack a little grated Parmesan on the side for extra decadence.

On the TrailGet ready to cook!

Lay out all of the components for the meal: sauce, pasta, and cheese. Bring a pot of water to boil. As it heats, remove some warm water with a cup. Reconstitute a sauce roll in a bowl with the warm water. Add a little water at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Boil pasta for about 6 minutes. Drain with lid. Serve and savor!

Other Hearty Snacks

With the philosophy that, if you’re going to carry baked goods, they should be worth their weight.

This article was also published by Sound Food. Check out their website for lots of great recipes and ideas.

Eggplant Tomato Sauce

Oh, how I love eggplant. Here’s an easy summer sauce to serve over pasta.

eggplant sauce1 eggplant
about 4 medium size tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
one ball of fresh mozzarella, chopped into small pieces
olive oil, salt, pepper
optional: fresh basil and/or oregano

  1. Prepare the veggies. Slice off the ends and remove skin of eggplant with a sharp knife. Cut into one-inch dice. Wash and slice tomatoes into chunks. Peel and mince garlic.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium low and then add 2 tbls. olive oil. When the oil is hot, add eggplant, salt, and pepper. Saute for about 4 minutes, tossing often. Your eggplant will begin to soften and look translucent. It’s best to taste it at this point to see if it’s too your liking. Add tomato and garlic. Stir until the tomato is just soft.
  3. Lower heat. Add the mozzarella and herbs. Stir until the cheese is just melted. Serve over  fresh pasta or crusty grilled bread.

Creamy Asparagus Sauce

Here’s an adventurous way to serve asparagus – as a  pasta sauce! We’ve served it over wide, fresh pasta or gnocchi. Either way, it’s a dish that says spring.

This recipe and technique is adapted from one of our favorite cookbook authors, Nick Stellino. If you don’t have your own Italian grandmother, adopt Nick.Asparagus Sauce

Sauce for four plates.

olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion or 2 spring onions
1 pound asparagus
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup cream

  1. Prepare your vegetables. Thickly slice the garlic cloves. Coarsely chop your onion(s). Cut the tops off of the asparagus and set aside. Chop the stems into rough 1 inch pieces.
  2. In a pan over medium-high, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic, onion, and the stems of the asparagus. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add wine and boil to reduce, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes to soften the asparagus.
  5. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (If there is a gap in the top of your food processor, be sure to cover it with a folded wash cloth to avoid hot, spattering sauce.)
  6. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.Heat on medium-high. Add asparagus tops and cook for about 1 minutes, stirring briskly.
  7. Add the blended asparagus mixture to the tops in the pan. Stir. Add the cream. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. While the sauce simmers, cook your pasta. Using tongs, toss your cooked pasta with your sauce, plate, and top with Parmesan.