By: Anna Brones
When it comes to eating and cooking, a bike tour is a little different than a multi-day backcountry adventure. On a tour, you can restock more regularly, and you can carry a little more weight than you would if you were carrying it all on your back. That means you can splurge on refreshments, like beer, and fresh ingredients, like herbs and produce.
This pasta dish is the perfect meal after a long day in the saddle when you’re craving something warm and full of cheese and starch. While a common staple, pasta dishes tend to be a bit drab on trips if they’re not done right. But there’s one thing that you can easily pack that will take an average pasta dish and turn it into a superb one: dried mushrooms. I’m fortunate enough to have friends who run a mushroom company, and on my recent bike tour I had both their dried morels and porcini mushrooms with me.
Since you’re making something similar to macaroni and cheese, opt for a pasta like penne, macaroni or fusilli. I like cooking with brown rice pasta because it has a little extra flavor, and it’s great if you’re traveling with friends who are gluten-free. You can also make this pasta without the cheese and it will be vegan-friendly too. But whatever you do, don’t leave out the mushrooms.
Cheesy Pasta with Dried Mushrooms
Makes: two portions
2 servings pasta of your choice
½ ounce dried mushrooms, like morels or porcini
A small chunk of hard cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Ground black pepper
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Measure out the appropriate amount of water for your pasta and place in a pot with your mushrooms. Place on the stove and bring to a boil. Let boil for a couple of minutes before adding in the pasta (this will give the mushrooms a little extra time to rehydrate). Add your pasta and cook until tender.
While the pasta is cooking, cut the cheese into small pieces.
When the pasta has finished cooking, pour off the water into a water bottle or camp cups; this water tastes great on its own, it’s basically a warm mushroom broth, or it makes for a good base for hot chocolate later in the evening.
Add the cheese to the pot along with the olive oil and chopped garlic and stir together. Cover the pot and let sit for a few minutes to let cheese melt.
When ready to serve, season with salt, pepper and fresh basil and stir together before spooning into bowls.
Anna Brones is a writer, producer and artist. She is the author of several books including Hello, Bicycle and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Find more of her work at annabrones.com or on Instagram @annabrones.