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

Trail Chef: The Best Fake Burritos Ever

The first installment of our new weekly series on all things camp food

On my first backpacking trip, we ate Clif Bars for dinner. Breakfast was instant oatmeal cooked over the fire in a leftover aluminum can. On my second, we made macaroni and cheese with some canned spinach and called it inspired. Ramen? PB & J? Been there.

No longer, my friend. I've seen the light. Never again will I settle for sub-par cuisine on the trail. It's just too easy—and too much fun—to whip up something nutritious and tasty instead. I owe this culinary epiphany to several sources: More experienced friends, group trip leaders, even, yes, Backpacker's recipe page. These days, dinner 'round the campfire is much more Cashew Curry Rice than Clif Bar.

But I know I can do better—and that's where you come in. Do you make a knockout pasta primavera? A to-die-for baked apple dessert? We want your best recipes (and not just for my next trip to Moab): We'll publish our favorite reader camp recipes in our upcoming Readers' Choice issue. Trail gourmands, I know you're out there. Won't you share the wealth? Send your recipes to

And, in the spirit of sharing, here's one of our own all-star recipes. Deputy editor Dennis Lewon is known as the guy you want behind the camp stove on Backpacker trips: Here's one of his favorite crowd-pleasing meals.

Dennis's Fake Dahl Burritos

Dried curry lentil soup (available in bulk bins at the grocery store)
Instant rice
Green onions, diced
Red pepper, diced
Coconut flakes
Cilantro, chopped
Jalapeno peppers, diced

Cook the rice and dried soup (use less water than what's called for, so the consistency is a dahl-like paste instead of soup). Fill tortillas with both, then add fresh toppings to taste.

Think you can beat our office Emeril's recipe? Send 'em in!

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image Credit: Jennifer Smith


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Rich Doug Wilson
Oct 26, 2011

Hey, come on guys and gals, can we true backpackers have more recipes where so many dishes, plates and cups are needed. You still have to wash all that stuff. When I am limited on water and how much I actually have (and this is most of the time on the AT), I need recipes that are very simple and that require very little cleanup water. I have one small pot and a insulated cup, thats it! Thanks for the recipes! Trailhawk

The Mad Hatter
Mar 13, 2009

This is, not! Even the boy Scouts won't bring cans into the backcountry! What's next, canned Salmon and Tuna surprise in bear country? Lightweight, tasty and nutritious is what we crave in the woods. I have spent years(since 1969)traveling light while still maintaining basic nutriition with great tasting food. So can you!

Laurie Ann March
Mar 12, 2009

For many parks (at least some that your Canadian readers frequent) have can and bottle bans... and the ones that don't should. Cans are far to weighty for use in the backcountry.

Anyway what Dicentra failed to mention is that many of those canned items can be purchased as freeze-dried or easily dried in a home dehydrating appliance.

Mar 12, 2009

I agree - backpacking with cans? I don't think so! (My stove weighs less than a can of tuna....!) More light-weight recipes. Anybody can cook with "real" food. Duh.

Mar 03, 2009

First of all, what is UP with the CANS of food in the photo. Second, Backpacker needs to go look at their own forums... They have three published backcountry cookbook authors who post almost daily. You've got literally hundreds of recipes and tips to choose from! :)

Feb 28, 2009

That sounds delicious. I might make that at home tonight.

Feb 27, 2009

You should check out Lots of good ideas & recipes there.


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