On the May long weekend, I went on a road trip to Vermont and Montreal, spending one night camping in a tent for my first time. Yes, it was car camping, and, yes, I was with my highly seasoned camping partner, but it was still oh so very charming to me. Even though we were able to provide the comforts of home with a quick jaunt to the vehicle, it opened my eyes to the at-handedness of my kitchen equipment, motivating me to create recipes with fewer tools. (As I write this, most of my house is packed for moving, including my kitchen, so this minimal equipment camp cooking ethos has come in extremely handy over the last week.)
We stopped at Hill Farmstead Brewery, 2015’s Best Brewery in the World, in highly rural Greensboro, Vermont, to unwind with something refreshing after an 8-hour journey, and to pick up several different bottles of their gorgeous, renowned brews. We each gobbled a taco truck taco before heading to, what may be my new favourite summer spot, Waterbury, Vermont, to meet friends for a “fine barbecue” meal at Prohibition Pig, which included maple baked beans, brisket, charred brussels sprouts and a hot peach ginger crumble served in a ferociously hot cast-iron skillet. And more craft beer.
As the dinner conversation lingered into the evening, I began to feel the early morning catching up to me and couldn’t work through it. My patient partner and I left our friends for the night and headed to our campground to set up the tent in what seemed like the deep, dark woods (I would be proven only half correct in the morning); the moon was our only source of light, but oh, how bright it was!
I had grown up spending my summers in Northern Ontario at our family cottage, but we had all of the comforts of home there, including heating, a refrigerator, television, etc., so this was certainly different. Though it was no back camping, which my partner has done and loves and I know I will one day convince him that I, too, can do, spending the night outdoors in a tent left me feeling rejuvenated. Away from the incessant pings of work emails, at least for an evening, it was just what I needed.
In the morning, a fire was lit and we made AeroPress coffee. Of course, my partner brought his hand-crank coffee grinder, the aforementioned AeroPress, tiny stove and a pot to heat water on because he understands life’s necessities. After coffee, with no time to make breakfast (supplemented with burritos at noon), it was time to hit the road once again, heading back to Canada for a beer launch at Brasserie Dunham in rural Quebec, and eventual landing in Montreal for an evening out. Montreal included dinner with friends at Hotel Herman; patio beers at Dieu du Ciel, retro drinks at prohibition era-, Cuban- and speakeasy-inspired, The Emerald (Le Bar Sans Nom); warm, hand-rolled, honey-boiled midnight bagels at the famous, St-Viateur Bagel; and a Scandinavian-style brunch the following day at Larry’s.
Though the latter half of our trip was the antithesis of the first night camping in Vermont, both proved memorable and we-need-to-do-this-again-soon-worthy.
Getting my toes wet in the world of camping has inspired a bit of low-maintenance, minimal-pot cooking. Sure, there will be the usual suspects of campfire sausages and burgers on our next camping trip, but there’s room for a bit of the unusual, too. Enter, one-pan pasta.
With a large skillet, water, dry pasta (I used the new Barilla Pronto pasta line; check out their website for more information and recipes) and a handful of fresh ingredients, here, including foraged (by him, not me – my gathering proved unsuccessful) wild green garlic. We’ll be able to make something that doesn’t require a colander. Of course, this entire recipe is not necessarily camping-friendly, unless you want to make pesto by pounding the ingredients with a in a handmade divot in a tree stump (good on you). However, with a bit of planning ahead, the pasta components can be prepped and brought along for the ride in a cooler if you’re car camping.
And, if you’re thinking this dish is a touch too gourmet or too involved for even the quickest camping trip, bring along a jar of pasta sauce and call it a day – there’s more room for good beer now, anyways.
- Green Garlic Pesto
- 6 cups chopped wild green garlic or ramps or leeks
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups water
- 2 cups Barilla Pronto Rotini pasta
- ½ salt
- 2 tablespoons white wine
- ½ head broccoli, including peeled stems, chopped into small pieces
- ¼ cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt (preferably 10%)
- 2 tablespoons green garlic pesto (from above) or store-bought pesto of choice
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- For the Green Garlic Pesto: In a food processor, pulse green garlic until finely minced. Add pine nuts and pulse to incorporate. Add remaining pesto ingredients and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides once or twice, until smooth and creamy.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons pesto. Refrigerate or freeze (in portions) leftovers for 1 week to 2 months, respectively.
- Make the Pasta: In a large high-sided skillet or pot, bring water, pasta and salt to a boil. Keep heat moderately high and cook uncovered, stirring often for 8 minutes. Stir in broccoli and wine. Continue to cook uncovered, stirring often for 4 minutes longer, or until pasta and broccoli are tender. Remove from heat.
- Stir in yogurt, reserved 2 tablespoons pesto, ground pepper and lemon juice, to taste. Serve warm or chill to serve as a creamy pasta salad.
Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Barilla and I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.