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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Trail Chef: Pasta with Herbes de Provence

Taste-test one of our Readers' Choice Recipe finalists

Poor editors. This gig might sound glamorous—full of on-the-clock hikes and mountaintop meetings—but the truth is that more often than not, we're working steadily at our desks, gazing wistfully out of the window at the Flatirons. That's why last week in the office was such a treat: The trail came to us, in the form of backcountry cuisine. We're deep into our Readers' Choice issue these days, and it was my task to decide which of the many reader recipes that came in truly deserved the "Backpacker's Favorite" title. You know what that means: Taste test!

It wasn't easy—but it was tasty. We narrowed the recipes down to 10 finalists, then cooked 'em all up on backpacking stoves and sampled them among our discriminating editorial palates. After three days' worth of chewing, the very best recipes were clear. And you'll have to wait 'til the Readers' Choice issue (December/January) to see them.

But of course, Trail Chef would never leave you hanging. So here's one of our finalists—it didn't quite make the last cut, but it was yummy and pleasing nonetheless.

Pasta with Herbes de Provence
Submitted by Clint Conaster (recipe slightly adapted)

3 ounces angel hair pasta
4 or 5 ounces canned, dehydrated, or pouch chicken
3 large sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup dried mushrooms
2 ounces olive oil
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (use one of the packets from your last pizza delivery)

At home
Place herbs, tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and cheese in separate zip-top bags. Place olive oil in a small plastic bottle. Pack this with garlic and pasta in another zip-top bag.

In camp
One hour to 30 minutes before eating, bring water to a boil. If you're using dehydrated chicken, let it sit, covered, in the hot water for the full hour to rehydrate. If not, let the tomatoes and mushrooms rehydrate for 20-30 minutes in hot water. When ready to really start cooking, boil pasta in water for 4 minutes, then drain and remove from pot. Finely dice garlic, then heat in the pot with olive oil, drained tomatoes, and drained mushrooms until garlic is lightly toasted. Add chicken to the pot and stir until well-mixed. Top with herbs and Parmesan.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image credit: FotoosVanRobin

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Clint Conatser
Oct 16, 2009

Hi, everyone. This is my recipe. If you can't find Herbes de Provence, basil + oregano will also work just fine. Try it - I knocked out my friends with this dish at the Indian Gardens campground in Grand Canyon a few years ago!

Scott Orlosky (Backpack Gourmet)
Oct 09, 2009

Pasta dishes are a staple of the backcountry experience - so it's always nice to see some other variations on the theme. I always pre-cook pasta and then dehydrate it for backpack trips. This saves on the fuel to boil water for 20 minutes to cook it later. You can rehydrate the pasta by putting 2 cups of boiling water in a ziplock with the pasta and 15 minutes later - it's done and still hot. I recommend against spaghetti, linguine, angel hair - the long flat pastas only because they stick to the pot (if you you cook them on the trail)and they are messy to eat. I've found that rotini, macaroni, fusilli, small shells - the more compact pastas - are easier to deal with and have plenty of nooks and crannies for the sauces.

Lynn Hartman
Oct 08, 2009

No matter what you call it - it is still flavored noodles.

Laurie Ann March
Oct 05, 2009

Herbes de Provence is also quite wonderful on potatoes. Simply dry shredded potatoes and then rehydrate at camp with boiling water. Drain off any excess water and fry the shreds in some olive oil and butter (adding olive oil to the butter makes it so the butter has a higher "smoke" point). Add the herbs and let the potatoes continue cooking, stirring occassionally, until golden brown. This is really good served with scrambled eggs and shelf stable bacon.

Anyo
Oct 04, 2009

Nope, the photo has NOTHING to do with the recipe. It is capers in that photo. Click on the "image credit", it is a photo that has creative commons licensing on it. Sadly, the photo has a great recipe attached to it if you click through to Flickr!

Smithy
Oct 04, 2009

In the photograph, I do not see angel hair pasta, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes or Parmesan. Is the photo even of the recipe on this page?

Honora
Oct 02, 2009

Had to google Herbes de Provence: savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender flowers and other herbs. Gonna try this one out, thanks for sure...I dehydrated canned chicken and got 35g from a 200g tin. It rehydrated very nicely too.

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