Thursday, January 5, 2012

Vegetarian Camping in Big Sur


Oh how I love Northern California. I feel so lucky to live here, surrounded by inherently spectacular places like Big Sur, Carmel by-the-sea, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Point Reyes, Yosemite, Tahoe and, of course, Napa and Sonoma.

We recently had the most amazing camping trip to Big Sur. The winding, cliff-hugging drive down Highway 1 itself generated spectacular views from the car window each more breathtaking than the last.

The splendid coast line at Big Sur is rocky and jagged, a sharp contrast to the sandy, easily accessible beaches of Southern California.


We set up camp just across the ocean at the Southern end of Big Sur and then hiked down to the rocky beach protected by bluffs. What a beautiful scene we encountered- massive waves crashing down on huge rocks set against a glittering ocean in the background.




We arrived back at the camp before sunset to start preparing dinner. Knowing me, you might have already guessed that we didn't eat hot dogs and canned food on this camping trip. That's right, we took gourmet cooking outdoors! (All recipes are after the jump).


The first night we made nachos with black beans, fresh jalapenos, tomatoes, and cilantro in a cast iron skillet and then grilled a bunch of delicious veggies for me (and a leg of lamb for the rest) throughout the night. The night sky shined brilliantly with an endless number of stars and the only sound we could hear was that of the waves crashing.


As we gathered around the campfire, a flood of memories from camping as a Girl Scout came back to me- mostly involving food! Aside from the usual favorites of roasting marshmallows and making s'mores, one of my absolute favorites as a Girl Scout was wrapping a Pillsbury crescent roll on a whittled green stick and roasting it to a crisp in the fire. (You really have to get close to the fire, otherwise the inside remains raw)

The next morning we were up super early and warmed ourselves around the fire, sipping on our own version of mochas- "cowboy" coffee mixed with hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and a dash of cinnamon- and feasting on Mexican scrambled eggs which we then wrapped up in tortillas.

To burn off the calories (mostly so we could eat more later), we hiked to Jade cove and then Limekiln state park, with beautiful Redwood groves and rocky lush streams. We spent the afternoon playing bocce on the rocky beach. Note to self, bocce balls definitely crack (sometimes in half) when hitting a big rock. 



That evening around the campfire we sipped on wine and wonderfully peaty Ardbeg Uigeadail as dinner was cooking. And what a glorious feast it was: spinach and mushroom veggie lasagna with three cheeses- ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan, fire roasted root vegetables (potato, turnip, celery root and parsnip with onion, garlic, thyme and parmesan), fire roasted butternut squash with sage and onion, and grilled corn on the cob. Not too shabby!


The next morning for breakfast we filled Pillsbury crescent rolls with mushrooms, garlic and fresh thyme and roasted them over the fire in foil packets and made biscuits and gravy. Yes, while camping.




After our feast, we hiked over to Julia Pfeiffer Burns Beach and caught stunning views of the ocean and waterfall. As we made our way north, we stopped at Nepenthe and took in the gorgeous ocean views on the sun-soaked roof deck. I sipped a beautiful glass of pinot noir, Lucia Gary's vineyard from nearby Santa Lucia Highland. It was the perfect finish to an amazing trip! Thanks N & N!


All recipes are after the jump.

Veggie Lasagna in a cast iron skillet
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced about 1 cup
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup ricotta cheese
5 oz mozzarella, sliced or shredded
6 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles or 6 regular noodles precooked
1/4 cup parmesan
10 oz bag of baby spinach
10 oz mushrooms, sliced about 2 cups
sea salt and pepper
Tools needed: can opener, aluminum foil, cast iron skillet, bowl, spoon, propane camp stove
Knife and cutting board or pre-chop everything and keep in ziploc bags until needed

In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, cooking 5 minutes. Set aside leaving oil in the skillet. Add garlic and onions to skillet, cooking until onions are translucent. Given the high temperature, be sure to stir frequently. Add crushed red chili flakes, cook for 30 seconds.

Add crushed tomatoes, setting can aside. Season with sea salt and pepper. Transfer about 2/3 of the sauce back into the can, leaving the remaining 1/3 of the sauce in the pan.

Layer noodles over the sauce, add ricotta, then spinach and sauted mushrooms, top with mozzarella and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Repeat layering until all ingredients are used, ending with mozzarella. Top with grated parmesan.

Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and simmer until the lasagna noodles are cooked and cheese is melted. Remove from heat and let the lasagna cool for a few minutes before serving.


Skillet Nachos 
1/2 bag of tortilla chips
1 can black beans, drained
8 oz shredded cheddar jack cheese
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
optional: avocado

Tools needed: can opener, aluminum foil, cast iron skillet, spoon, propane camp stove
Knife and cutting board or pre-chop everything and keep in ziploc bags until needed

In a cast iron skillet, add olive oil to lightly coat the bottom and heat over medium heat. Layer chips on the bottom of the pan. Add black beans (without liquid) on top. Sprinkle with onion, jalapeno, and cheese. Cover with aluminum foil or lid and let the cheese melt.  Remove from heat, top with tomato, fresh cilantro and avocado. Serve with salsa if desired.


Fire roasted root vegetables
4 cups of root vegetables, mix of potatoes, turnips, celery root, and parsnip, peeled and chopped into small pieces in advance
1 cup sliced onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sprigs of thyme
sea salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
optional: 1/4 cup grated parmesan
6 large square sheet of aluminum foil - makes 2 packets

Tools needed: aluminum foil, tongs
Knife and cutting board or pre-chop everything in advance and keep in ziploc bags until needed

Take one large square sheet of aluminum foil. Place half the root vegetables, onion, garlic, and thyme in the center of the foil. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and use hands to mix together. Place another sheet on top. Roll edges up tightly. Wrap in another sheet of aluminum foil to secure the contents. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make an additional packet.

Place both packets directly in fire, turning with tongs every 10 minutes, cooking for 20 minutes. If place above fire, cook for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Remove from heat and open carefully, as steam will be very hot. Top with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve hot. Each packet serves 2 as a side.


Fire roasted butternut squash
4 cups butternut squash
1 cup onion
12 sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Tools needed: aluminum foil, tongs
Knife and cutting board or pre-chop everything in advance and keep in ziploc bags until needed

Take one large square sheet of aluminum foil. Place half the butternut squash, onion, and sage in the center of the foil. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and use hands to mix together. Place another sheet on top. Roll edges up tightly. Wrap in another sheet of aluminum foil to secure the contents. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make an additional packet.

Place both packets directly in fire, turning with tongs every 10 minutes, cooking for 20 minutes. If place above fire, cook for 40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Remove from heat and open carefully, as steam will be very hot. Serve hot. Each packet serves 2 as a side.


Biscuit and gravy 
3 tbsp butter
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onions, sliced
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk, heat separately
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
1 can of 6 Pillsbury biscuits
2 large sheets of aluminum foil

Tools needed: cast iron skillet, pot, spoon, fork, aluminum foil, tongs
Knife and cutting board or pre-chop everything in advance and keep in ziploc bags until needed

Arrange biscuits in center of a large sheet of aluminum foil. Cover with another sheet of foil and roll up edges. Place on grill over fire and cook for 15 minutes, until down. Turning halfway with tongs. Remove from heat and open carefully, as steam will be very hot.

In a pot, bring milk to a simmer. In a large cast iron skillet, add butter and onion, saute until soft over medium heat. Add flour, stirring constantly.  Cook over low heat, whisking frequently. Pour about half the warm milk into the skillet and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining milk and stir until thickened. Add mushrooms, cooking for a few minutes. Season to taste with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

Spoon the gravy over warm biscuits and serve hot.

4 comments:

  1. Too amazing in too many ways. I'm so glad you had this trip to enjoy. Maybe some place a little warmer for your next venture? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, perhaps a place where it is perfectly acceptable to drink a pina colada at any time of day :)

      Delete
    2. Somehow, I really need a visual here (hint, hint).

      Delete
  2. Being the vegetarian shouldn't be a reason regarding you to definitely not really try a outdoor camping journey. It is the main reason why this short article offer some good as well as tasty vegetarian outdoor camping dishes. See more http://survival-mastery.com/diy/food_prep/vegetarian-camping-recipes.html

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