Outdoor food doesn't always have to come out of a packet! Even on short treks, fresh food needn't be passed up. Five great recipes and useful tips, which will turn your camp site into a culinary experience!
This summer, on a camping trip through Canada, there was no chance of taking along an array of spices and home cooked food. We did however, have our outdoor recipes. Our kitchen consisted of a camping stove (the Primus Omnifuel) with a gas cartridge and two pots (incl. cover) and a pan. The Primus is a light fuel-burner stove and has the added feature function “Simmer”, meaning that the meals are able to simmer on a low flame. Of course these recipes can also be cooked on other stoves, however, keep in mind that these recipes were designed for cooking with gas.
A small cutting board, two kitchen helpers, two sharp knives, including opener (Leatherman), a strainer (which can be used simultaneously as cover) and a vegetable peeler were included in our gear. With these utensils you should be able to prepare the outdoor recipes below.
We shopped a lot at street markets in Banff and Jasper during our Canada road trip. In between, we stocked up in smaller shops. There are no large cities in the national parks, but Banff has a larger supermarket (Safeway) and Jasper even has an organic supermarket (Robinson Foods).
Three tips and tricks for an outdoor kitchen
1. How do I cook on a one burner stove?
Actually cooking on a one burner gas stove, is no different to any other gas cooker, except for the fact that there is only one burner.
Placing noodles in hot water makes them cook quicker, meaning that by cooking them in boiling water for about five minutes, then placing the pot aside, they will finish cooking on their own while I prepare the sauce on the stove. Since all pasta’s cooking times vary, you will need to taste them every few minutes to see whether they are al dente.
2. Can I prepare all outdoor recipes on the stove?
Basically, anything that you can prepare and cook at home can be achieved while camping on a burner stove! The only consideration being, that the cooking of certain food will have a varying time span. The longer the preparation needed for food, the more fuel is wasted. Therefore, as a side dish, grains such as couscous are a good choice, as these can be simply placed in hot water, can be left off the stove, on their own to swell while you whip up a quick curry on the stove.. Instant couscous can be found in all supermarkets.
Stews are generally a good choice to make on a camping stove and for us, the delicious local sweet potatoes that we came across in Canada and also the abundance of fresh vegetables that were found in the well-stocked supermarkets, were reason enough for us to happily make curries. The recipes you will find below.
3. Cooling and transporting food
With the weather sometimes reaching 35 degrees Celsius, it was a challenge to keep our groceries cool, so we tried to tailor our outdoor recipes to non-perishable foods. We substituted cow’s milk for almond milk and coconut milk, pancakes without eggs, and if we ate meat, we purchase it shortly before we threw it on the grill.
Vegetables such as zucchini, potatoes and many other vegetables keep safely stored without refrigeration for several days, so that we ate extremely healthy and often, only vegan.
Alternatively, purchasing a small cooler (Canadian supermarkets for 20 to 30 dollars), helps to keep produce such as feta cheese or cold cuts, cooler for at least one day longer.
Since we were traveling by car, the transport of food was not a problem. For trekking, small freezer bags can be used for portioning and even removed from civilization, nothing stands in the way of a freshly baked bread (see previous recipe).
Our Top 5 Outdoor Recipes
We’ve tried and tested these recipes diligently and wish you many happy outdoor meals!
1. Vegetable curry with couscous (vegan)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- Turmeric and coriander, salt, pepper, chilli
- Mangold (about 200 grams)
- 1 sweet potato
- 4 large mushrooms
- 1 small onion
- 1 bowl of couscous
- Canola Oil
Sauté onion with oil and immediately add the spicy diced sweet potato.
Chop and add champignons. Pour in a can of coconut milk.
Wash the chard and cut into strips and also add. Season to taste. I still had some quinoa (about three tablespoons) so I added this to the curry as it needed to be consumed. Now reduce the heat, turn the cooker on the lowest setting and cover with lid.
After about five minutes remove the pan from the stove and replace it with half a cup of water to boil for the couscous. After it has boiled, pour it over the couscous. If the couscous still isn’t fluffy but has absorbed the water, I usually pour some of the curry sauce in to help it cook further.
Place the curry back on the stove and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
Portion the couscous into two bowls and pour the curry over.
Other vegetables that taste great with curry are: Carrots, bok choy, eggplant etc.
2. Potato stew
- 5 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 pack Philadelphia paprika cream cheeses (about 200 grams)
- 200 grams frankfurter sausages (wiener sausages)
- Water, pepper, salt, vinegar, pepper and oil
Cut the onion and the potatoes into small cubes. Dice sausages.
sauté the onion, add potatoes and pour in half a cup of water. Salt generously.
Replace the lid and let the potatoes cook for ten minutes. Then add the sausage and season with salt and pepper. Add a dash of vinegar.
If you happen to have pickles with you throw these into the potato stew – it gives it a delicious taste! A few pieces will do the trick.
Bring to the boil again. If necessary, add more water. When the potatoes are soft, fold in the Philadelphia cream cheese.
For those who think that Philadelphia cream cheese is too thick, can simply add tomato paste to obtain a creamier sauce.
3. Greek pasta dish (vegetarian)
- Zucchini (1 )
- Eggplant (1)
- Feta cheese (200 grams)
- Noodles (220 grams)
- Onion, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic
Finely chop the onion and fry, finely cut eggplant and zucchini and add.
Pour a little water and simmer. Cut the feta cheese into cubes. Remove the pan from the stove first and cover with the lid. Then fill a second pot of water and cook the pasta.
Remove the noodles after five minutes from the stove and put the cover on it, allowing them to cook in the hot water while standing.
Place the first pot with the sauce back on the stove and add diced feta. Continue to simmer over low heat until the noodles are cooked.
Drain the noodles, add them to the sauce and serve.
4. Pancakes without eggs (vegan)
- 160 grams of flour (wheat flour, type W480) (1.5 cups)
- 300 ml soy milk / almond milk
- 100ml sparkling mineral water
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (if desired)
Mix the ingredients together (except the mineral water), stir the dough until smooth and then add the mineral water. Let sit for ten minutes.
Add a little oil to the pan and fry the pancakes. The dough should be fairly runny, but still have a creamy, firm consistency. If not, add some more flour.
Once the pancakes develop littel aerated holes at the top, they are ready to turn.
Fry the other side briefly and serve. They taste amazing with jam, Nutella or maple syrup.
The quantity that I used was based on a type W480 flour, other types of flour may mean you will need more or possibly less flour.
5. Bannock with bacon and sour cream (as vegan variant)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 bag of baking powder
- 250g bacon
- 4 tablespoons sour cream, 2 tomatoes, 2 radishes
For those who wish to omit the bacon and sour cream or replace it with soy yogurt, will have a vegan dish. We still had bacon left that needed to be cooked up so we diced it into the dough. The preparation is simple:
Mix ingredients except the sour cream, radishes and tomatoes. Divide the amount of dough to form two balls. Press this flat and roll out into a kind of flat bread. Then fry in a pan on both sides. I’ve used a non-stick pan without oil and it worked great. Calculate approx five minutes cooking time for each side of the bread.
Spoon two tablespoons of sour cream onto the finished Bannock bread and sprinkle with radish and tomato.
Tips for trekking: Transport the ingredients for the dough in freezer bag portions, then add the water before preparing.
Other related outdoor reads: