You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when cooking outdoors.
By Fern Morales
After a long day of climbing, hiking, or adventuring the last thing you want to do is get complicated with your dinner. You’re probably starving—those handfuls of trail mix and crag beers didn’t quite cut it. As you approach your campsite, your hunger turns into an audible monster in the pit of your stomach. The creature is threatening to emerge from the cavernous depths if not satiated quickly. As handy as that freeze-dried pouch and can of beans may sound, wouldn’t something a bit more flavorful or hearty be more appetizing?
Just because you’re in a more primitive setting doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the pleasures of quality ingredients. If cooking in a camping environment seems limiting, we’re here to help. It doesn’t get easier (or tastier) than the classic mac & cheese. The iconic American staple makes for the perfect post sufferfest dining experience. Plus, it’s simple nature makes it possible to feed that monster almost immediately.
The starchy goodness of pasta combined with the creamy, salty amazingness of cheese, paired with the rich protein powers of broccoli will keep you full and happy while you enjoy a rousing jam session by the fire with your adventure crew.
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s incredibly adaptable. You can keep it OG and pure or get creative with added ingredients. You choose! Throw in some bell peppers for color, kick it up with spicy sausage, or mix in some earthy flavors with aged cheese and mushrooms. The sky’s the limit with this one.
Here’s our favorite version, adapted from our Outdoor Education Series: Crag Cuisine with Jaque Toledo:
Broccoli Mac & Cheese
- 1 Box of mac & cheese (comes with packet of cheese)
- Look for the kind that doesn’t require butter or milk if you’re going for speed
- ½ pound Broccoli florets chopped into small pieces
- smaller pieces cook faster
- Spices (if desired)
- Salt or garlic salt
- Black pepper, crushed red pepper (for those who like it spicy)
- MSR (or equivalent) cooking apparatus
- Windburner and Pocket Rocket are great for boiling (cannot control temperature) and inclement weather
- Whisperlite and Dragonfly and such are great if you want to simmer/saute
- Large pot with lid
- Most camping pots come with a built in draining system in the lid
- Spoon for stirring
- Cutting board
- Start up your cooking device and place the pot securely over the flame.
- Add water, broccoli, and desired spices. Bring to a boil and cover with lid.
- After five minutes, add pasta and cook as directed.
- Stir occasionally to avoid anything sticking to the bottom.
- Test pasta by extracting a piece with the spoon and tasting (once cooled).
- If pasta has reached desired texture, turn off the heat.
- Drain water.
- Add cheese and mix well.