The kitchen partner and I are packing up today for a well-needed vacation. We planned this trip when there was still snow on the ground; hard to believe it’s August already. The anticipation of busting out the tent and the cooler Lake Superior weather. I can hardly contain myself. Seriously. This gal hasn’t had her hiking boots on in weeks.
Camping during the Eat Local, America challenge shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. We do our best to pack as much fresh, local food that will last without refrigeration. After the first day or so, the non-perishables take over. Minnesota has good options in the dehydrated camping food area (Cache Lake in Bemidji, MN is a safe bet for camping goodies!), but for the most part we stick to the basics. Tacos, sandwiches, pasta. Occasionally I’ll cruise the Trail Chef section on Backpacker.com for a new camp recipe I can adapt with local ingredients.
In preparation of this trip, I made some simple tomato pasta sauce last weekend to serve over Dakota Growers spaghetti. We’ve harvested over 10 pounds of tomatoes from the garden last week and all needed to be used before we left. Toss in some peppers, onions, lots of garlic, fresh herbs and let it simmer. The sunflower oil is the only thing we didn’t grow!
I didn’t bother canning it since we’ll use it tonight or tomorrow; storing it in a quart jar is more for packing ease than anything. It looks gorgeous in the jar though, doesn’t it? Add it to the list of things I’m giddy about today.
Simple Campground Pasta Sauce
10 cups of ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 banana pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup fresh herbs, roughly chopped (use a combination of your favorites. I used 1/3 of each basil, thyme, and oregano)
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. salt (optional if you’re in the challenge. Add it if you’re not!)
2-3 Tbsp. sweetener (This is to cut the acid of the tomatoes. You can choose Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, or other natural sweetener.)
1. Prepare tomatoes: Wash tomatoes and remove any blemished spots. Bring a small sauce pot with 2 inches of water to a boil. Cut the skin of each tomato in an x pattern, beginning at the stem and moving down the sides. One-by-one, place each tomato in the boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and immediately place in cool water. The skin of the tomato will separate and easily peel away. If it does not slip off, return to boiling water for a few seconds more. Quarter tomato and remove the core and seeds. Repeat with each tomato and place in a large stock pot. Bring tomatoes to a boil, cook for 20 minutes.
2. Just before tomatoes finish boiling, drizzle oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, peppers, celery, garlic, and herbs in oil for 3-4 minutes. Combine with tomatoes, salt and sweetener in stock-pot and stir until well-combined. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 1 1/2 hours. Stir often to prevent the tomatoes from scorching to the bottom. Sauce will thicken.
3. Serve hot over pasta or cool and refrigerate. Recipe can also be processed using a pressure canning method (quarts: 25 minutes at 15 lbs. of pressure).