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.
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 chunks
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.
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 trail:
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):
Multigrain Struan (from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads)
Granola Breakfast Cookies (from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book)
Whole Wheat Brownie