Trail Chef: Multipurpose Pesto!

Nothing classes up a meal like this homemade, basil-riffic sauce.
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Nothing classes up a meal like this homemade, basil-riffic sauce.

Last spring, while researching locavore backpacking strategies (one tip: Hit up the farmers' market for everything from plums to local prosciutto), I ran across the excellent Sourdough Monkey Wrangler blog. Said Wrangler ruminates on, among other things, bringing gourmet style to backpacking meals with fresh, straight-from-the-backyard ingredients.

I convinced the Monkey Man to share one of his favorite sauces: a homemade pesto that's perfect on pasta, crackers, tortillas, bread...the sky's the limit. Mr. Sourdough even puts a dollop in rice dishes, uses it as a pizza sauce, and adds some to the pan when frying up a trout. Whip this up at home, pack it in a four- or eight-ounce plastic container with a screw-on top, freeze it until hiking time, and let your imagination be your guide.

San Franciso Bay Pesto



1 cup packed basil leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons nuts (try walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts)

Juice of half of a lemon

About 1 tablespoon olive oil (add more until ingredients blend smoothly)

At home: Combine all ingredients, mixing until a sauce forms.

At camp: If desired, grate a hard cheese (such as Parmesan or Romano) over the pesto before serving.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image credit: Sourdough Monkey Wrangler