Hi! I'm going on a four-day hike with a bunch of vegetarian foodies, and I was wondering if anyone knew of a few interesting recipes that can be prepared with dehydrated (preferably light) food (rice, couscous, beans, etc.). Thanks!
Are you channeling your best self with this comment? (If you're not sure, check out our Code of Conduct.)
trampledbygeese is a trusted home cook.
Check out the book Vegan A Go Go by Sarah Kramer. There are some awesome on the go recipes, high energy stuff too. Her Righteous orbs are very hiking friendly, basically little bursts of energy. Make a bunch of those up before you go, and snack on them to keep your energy up while you hike.
Here's some general tips from when I worked at a local ecotourism company:
Other than that, two things you need to think about when hiking is your cooking method and the water. Are you hauling your own fuel or cooking over an open fire pit? Either way, things that need small amounts of cooking (under 20 min) are best. Instant or parboiled rice instead of long to cook brown rice.
With the water, is it safe to drink the water where you are going or are you lugging your own? On the local hiking trails, there are pathogens in the water that cannot be removed with simple purifiers or filtration techniques, it has to be boiled for 20 to 40 min (hard to do on a camp stove) to be safe to drink. It's more economical to carry your own. So if you are lugging your own water, you need so much per day per person for just drinking, then on top of that you need a bunch for cooking. The more dried out your food is, the more water you need to carry to cook it. Dried food is good because it's light but you get to the point where the extra water you need to carry for cooking it is heavier than the original vegetable would have been.
One more thing, if you can before you go, practice cooking with the equipment. It's horrible to get out there and after a long day's hike, and eat a burnt supper.
PS, one of my favourite things to eat on a camp fire is pancakes and sourdough flat bread. If you take a sourdough starter with you, make it really stiff and forget all this modern stuff about hydration and weight ratios. Cook like the pioneers would have, by feel (although I recommend trying this before you go to make sure you can make it work in a camping situation)
I forgot to mention that pasta isn't such a good idea if you are lugging your own cooking water, however, if you have clean safe to drink water on rout, pasta works great. Things like risotto, soups, things that can be made with broth cubes, &c are much better. Don't forget to take extra salt.
Wow, thanks so much, that was really helpful! We'll be close to a potable water source most nights, so lugging extra water won't be a problem - the sourdough sounds like a fantastic idea, I'd be really keen to try that out!
You can parboil the pasta and put it drained, in a ziplock bag.
Then finish it in a little water over heat. Aglio e Olio on the trail!!!!!
Potable water gives you so much more to pay with. What kind of cooking fule are you using? Tiny one burner stove, or two tiny one burner stoves, or a big two burner gas stove, pre dug fire pits, fire pits you have to make yourself, or something else?
For a 4 day trip, I would aim for one fry pan, one pot and possibly a kettle. The pot would be good for boiling water, making tea, rice, coffee, soups, &c. The fry pan for rissoto, sauces, flat breads, sourdough pancakes (I've been doing a lot of reading about foods they use to eat during the gold rush, so I have sourdough for brains right now).
Pre-cooking/baking something like Sourdough English muffins and/or sourdough loaves (at least 1 medium loaf per day for lunch and to fill out dinner) would be great. So long as they are properly cooled before packaging, they last longer than most regular breads. Carbs are good when you are hiking all day.
Protein is also super important in keeping your energy going. If your vegetarian friend eat eggs, how about powdered egg? Appalling on it's own, but far lighter weight and less fragile than the real thing. You can use it for baking the pancakes each morning.
Beans are another great cooking food. You can start with dry beans and do the quick soak thing (wash, boil, soak 1 hour, boil again...) but it takes ages. Lentils are less bother, just wash, boil 20 min. Here's my favourite simple lentil recipe: http://wholewheatfsm.blogspot.ca/2012/08/how-to-cook-lentils-yummy-way.html
What is the altitude? It can take a really long time to boil water if you are in a mountainous region. Pasta basically turns to glue unless you choose a quick cooking variety. Orzo is better than penne, for example. You should probably only take things that can be cooked with minimal time and effort.
I like to take one of those cardboard packages of tofu that don't need to be refrigerated- it is not freeze -dried weight, but the extra protein is worth it. Couscous is a great choice because you just need to bring the water to a bare simmer. I bring some small baggies of dried herb mixtures and a squeeze bottle of olive oil. If you can spare the weight, a zucchini or two tastes absolutely delicious with some tofu over couscous. It sounds horrible, but after a full day of hiking you will think you are eating at Chez Panisse!
If I were you I would not try to cook beans unless you plan to hang around the campsite for most of the day and can cook over a fire. Even then, you are likely to end up with something inedible.
Trader Joe's has foil packages of pre-prepared Indian lentils or chickpeas that aren't too heavy and would be delicious over a quick cooking rice. That would be a good source of protein.
I usually bring a bunch of hard-boiled eggs and some of those edam cheeses wrapped in wax. With some crackers and handful of nuts, you have a delicious protein-filled lunch.