Backpacking as lightly as one can, even for only a couple of nights like this Labor Day weekend, usually limits the number of great meals you can take with you (for some reason, shelter and warmth in the form of a tent and sleeping bag are more important to some people than a delicious meal).
We went camping recently and threw together this meal from stuff we already had at home. It was very slightly bulkier and heavier than one of those add-boiling-water-to-the-bag-and-let-it-sit-for-twenty-minutes meals from REI, but massively tastier. We might have saved this for our second night out, but the first night was so incredibly miserable with mosquitoes that we treated ourselves with this instead (and it didn't take as long as the boil-in-the-bag meal deal the second night).
Campfire Mushroom and Kale Pasta
half a red onion, chopped
small bag (10 ounces) of small pasta (we used some paella pasta, which looked suspiciously like orzo)
medium bunch of kale
package of dried mushrooms (I believe we used chantrelles)
couple tablespoons of heavy cream
- Boil some water. Add some to the mushrooms in a separate bowl and allow to sit while you finish the dish. Leave just enough water in the pot to boil the pasta, so that hopefully you won't have to pour off any water.
- Add the pasta and the red onion to the boiling water and cook until pasta is al dente.
- Spoon the mushrooms our of their water and add to the pot. Their broth is very good and you're welcome to add it to the pot as well, but do so carefully, trying to leave behind the silt and sand at the bottom of the bowl. Add the heavy cream and the kale, torn up by hand, while the pasta is still hot, so the kale wilts down in there.
- Thinly slice some manchego cheese on top. Serves two people who have just hiked 7 miles into their campsite only to find it colonized with mosquitoes and don't have enough whisky to get them through the night.
Put out the fire, and then run to the tent, where you'll eat the loveliest campfire meal you've ever enjoyed. I wouldn't normally recommend eating in the tent, but when you're quickly becoming anemic and infuriated by mosquitoes, there's no helping it.