With the weather dipping into icy temps and the leaves covering the backcountry trails with fall color, we thought we’d share a few recipes and tips to keep you warm and energized on the trails this shoulder season. Try one of these delicious meals from Laurel Miller, Tara Alan, and Lindsey Kunz during your next outdoor adventure.
Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew
This quick and simple Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew will satisfy you after a long day and offers some fall tones to match the season.
Serves one hungry traveler as-is, or two, if served with extras.
- 1 small eggplant
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon panch phoron spice mix
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Begin by cutting the eggplant into small chunks, and mincing the garlic.
- Prime and light your Whisperlite stove, and turn it to medium-low heat. Add the panch phoron and olive oil to your MSR Ceramic Skillet, and heat until the seeds begin to pop.
- Add the eggplant and garlic to the pan, as well as the salt, pepper, sugar (this balances the bitterness of the eggplant and the acidity of the tomatoes), and garlic powder. Sauté until the eggplant is fully cooked, and practically melting in the olive oil.
- Finally, add the tomatoes.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.
- When everything has mingled and combined into a cohesive stew, you’re ready to eat. Enjoy as-is, or with couscous, rice, or side dishes such as eggs and beans.
Read the full post with step-by-step instructions for making Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew.
Warm up with this one-pot Green Curry meal whether you’re frontcountry or backcountry cooking.
- 2 bundles thin rice vermicelli noodles (a package of 8 can be purchased at an Asian food market for just over a buck, or you can find in the international section of your grocery store)
- 1 8-ounce can of chunk chicken (optional or substitute extra firm tofu, chopped)
- 1 ½ tablespoons Mae Ploy green curry paste
- 1 2-ounce package of coconut cream powder (found most cheaply in Asian food markets or can be purchased online)
- ½ white or sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 Thai lime leaves, optional but adds a lot to the flavor (also known as makrut lime leaves; found in Asian food markets)
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (or sugar will work)
- 10 cilantro sprigs for garnish
Tips: I buy as many of the ingredients at an Asian food market, plus extra for future dishes, as Asian food markets tend to be much cheaper. The Thai lime leaves may be fresh or dried, although fresh is best and found in the produce department at most Asian food markets—these make the dish extraordinary. I buy a package of about 10 leaves and freeze them for up to 1 year.
- Light the stove and bring about 1 liter of water to a boil.
- Add all ingredients, minus the vermicelli and cilantro. Cook for 3 minutes on a low boil until all ingredients blend and coconut milk starts to thicken.
- Add the vermicelli and cook for about 3 more minutes. Turn off the stove, remove from heat, and let stand for 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer into bowls (or eat straight from the pot!), add the cilantro, and serve.
Tip: If your tolerance for spice is low, adding sugar or more sweet chili sauce can tame the spice. Don’t skimp on the curry paste as this will make your meal more bland. Massuman curry is the least spicy of the curries, so this can be substituted as well for a more mellow and slightly different flavor.
Read the full post with step-by-step instructions for making one-pot Green Curry.
Rice noodles are great travel pantry food—they’re light, incredibly versatile, and easily packable in a pack or pannier, and they take far less time to cook than wheat noodles. The recipe calls for eggplant, broccoli, and onion, but try whatever’s in season where you are. Green beans would be especially nice, as would gai lan (Chinese broccoli).
- Water for boiling
- 4 ounces of rice noodles
- 1 small onion (or half a larger one)
- 1 very small head of broccoli (or half a larger one)
- 1 small eggplant (or half a larger one)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ large lemon
- Fill a 1.5 liter cooking pot nearly full of water, and cover with a lid. Turn stove flame to high.
- While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop vegetables and mince the garlic.
- When the water comes to a boil, turn off the stove and take the pot off the flame. Break the rice noodles in half and add them to the pot, making sure they’re submerged.
- Put the lid on, and set aside for 8-10 minutes so they can soften. Keep an eye on the noodles as you cook the veggies. When they’re tender, drain them and cover with a lid to keep warm.
- Into a larger cooking pot (2.5 liters), add the sugar, olive oil, chili flakes, black pepper, salt, eggplant and garlic. Stir, set your stove at a medium level and sauté until the eggplant is mostly cooked. Then add the broccoli and keep sautéing.
- When the broccoli is just barely tender, add the onion. Cook for another minute or so
- Add the soy sauce and squeeze the juice of half a lemon into the pot. Stir until everything is combined.
- Pour the veggies over the drained rice noodles and dig in.
Read the full post with more detailed step-by-step instructions for making stir-fry while bikepacking in Romania.
Bonus: Trail Treats
There’s a lot of time between breakfast and dinner and these Trail Treats are great solutions to keeping your morale and your energy up.
- A chunk of sopressata or other dry-cured salami, dried figs, and a wedge of pecorino (Italian sheep’s milk cheese; try Pecorino Ginepro, rubbed in Balsamic vinegar and juniper berries, or a domestic cheese like a peppercorn-studded Pepato.
Spiced nuts, Vosges’ Mo’s Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar, and Bourbon
- Panforte (available at Whole Foods and other markets, and specialty/cheese shops) or membrillo (quince paste) with Manchego cheese, and a bota bag (for authenticity) of Rioja
- Dried apricots or peaches with honey- or maple-cured ham, dried Vella Jack or other sharp aged cheese, rye crackers, and whiskey (I like Old Forester).
- Slather nut butter (expand your repertoire with cashew, pistachio, or coconut) on a slice of crusty baguette, and top with honey, good-quality preserves, or a slab of dark chocolate
- Canned, wood-smoked salmon (try Crown Prince brand, or something from a local fishery, if you have access) on pumpernickel bread.
- Oil-packed sardines (look for versions marinated in garlic, herb, or lemon oil); enjoy with torn-off hunks of rustic bread, and dry-cured, marinated olives
- Jarred, roasted piquillo peppers (transfer to a Tupperware and enclose in Ziploc) and oil-packed tuna (I love canned, imported albacore from Spain or Italy, which have a silky texture and rich flavor), layered atop pieces of hearty olive bread
- Share your favorite fall trail meals or snacks in the comments below!
Read the full blog post on Trail Treats.
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Updated. Originally Published September 15, 2016.