Campsite cooking is probably our favourite thing about camping! We are always trying out recipes that are quick to prepare with minimal ingredients and easy clean up.

Butter chicken is a classic Indian curry that is most often mild but very flavourful and quite hearty. Adjust the amount of ingredients to suit your number of guests. You can make your own butter chicken sauce but the beauty of this dish is that it we used a shelf-stable prepared sauce. There are lots of brands available so you should be able to find one in a well-stocked grocery store or international market.

We used raw chicken that we cubed up at home and kept in a zip-lock bag so it could be dumped into the pan without worry about contamination. You could easily precook the chicken which might be a good idea if you’re using an ice-filled cooler for your fresh items. If you want to make this vegetarian, double the amount of potatoes  or substitute tofu.

Canned potatoes work perfectly because they are par-cooked already. Frozen peas keep very well in a container, even in a cooler, as well. We enjoy roasting our own peppers but jarred ones work great, too. You can use raw bell pepper if you add it early in the preparation so it can sauté and soften. Other vegetables you might try would be onion, zucchini, baby squash, or pre-cooked sweet potato.

 

 

 

 

Roasting bell peppers at your campsite is fun and easy. You can prepare them on a camp stove, portable grill, or over the campfire. Roast extra! They’re great the next day chopped up into hash browns or sliced and served with pitas and hummus for lunch!

 

Shish kabobs are great for cooking over a campfire or portable grill. Small strips or cubes of meat cook quickly, saving time and fuel. You can marinate the meat ahead of time and transport it pre-cut in a zip-lock bag. You can use a variety of meats and veggies as well as marinades. Our faves are beef sirloin, pork loin, chicken breast or thigh, or shrimp. Follow a theme with the marinade by using Italian dressing, Greek dressing, chimichurri, teriyaki, jerk, etc. Bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and pineapple are all good for grilling.

 

 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that veggies typically cook more quickly than meat. The best way to cook them is separately! Put meats and veggies on different skewers so everything cooks to perfection. This is great if you’re feeding meat-eaters as well as vegetarians. You can also use several kinds of meats, like a skewer for beef, one for chicken, and another for shrimp to allow for varying cooking times.

When done, give each person one meat & one veggie skewer. You can also take everything off the skewers and simply serve on a large plate.

 

Beef Skewers with Veggies & Rice (chicken skewers work great, too!)

Check out these great recipes for marinades:

Recipe: Dave’s Korean Marinade

Recipe: CJ Chimichurri Sauce

One of the great joys of camping is cooking outdoors, whether it be over a campfire, on a Coleman stove, or a portable grill. No matter where, cooking is an opportunity to engage all the senses… The smell of ingredients as they cook. The sound of sizzle on a grill. The sight of items browning and bubbling plus the warmth of the fire. And, of course, the TASTE!

When you’re preparing food outdoors, weather becomes a big factor. It can still be fun to cook in the rain under the cover of an awning or canopy. If you’re forced to change your menu, a hot bowl of soup or mug of tea hunkered down inside a trailer on a chilly day can be fun, too. That’s all part of the adventure of camping!

Of course, rain and wind are big issues if you are relying on a campfire, and in wildfire conditions, may not be accessible at all. But a small portable stove or grill shouldn’t present a problem… or perhaps they can.

 

We have camped in windy conditions a number of times, especially in the shoulder seasons. To our initial surprise, it had a bigger effect on outdoor cooking than we expected. For many of us seasoned cooks, we rely on all of our senses as we prepare food, even if we’re not aware of it.

A moderate breeze can blow your sense of smell away so you have to be more mindful of ingredients burning. It can also reduce or snuff out a flame. A strong wind through the trees or active surf can rob you of sounds of sizzling or bubbling. Wind will also dissipate heat and moisture more rapidly, so food can take much longer to cook at a higher flame, even in relatively warm summer temperatures. Cold temperatures will mean that you’ll go through a lot more fuel, making meals that require shorter cooking times more preferable.

Here are our best tips for cooking during windy events:

  • Always check with the park or district first to make sure there are no burn bans and it is safe to have an open flame outdoors
  • Orient your cooking surface in the area most protected from wind taking advantage of the natural topography or your tent/trailer as a wind-break
  • Use the heat-safe wind shield that many portable stoves & grills come with to protect your flame
  • Be prepared for longer cooking times
  • Be prepared to use more fuel
  • Use lids to keep heat and moisture from escaping, especially glass ones you can see through
  • Keep an eye on your food and flame closely for burning or snuff-out
  • Have alternate menu plans that are quick to heat like a can of soup or chili, or don’t require cooking at all
  • ALWAYS make sure you pick up any items that can blow away and extinguish all flames
  • Winnie-the-Pooh would add, “Avoid camping on Winds-days.”

 

 

Here’s a perfect make-ahead meal for questionable weather forecasts, that requires no cooking at all:

If you like olives, you’ll love tapenade. Traditionally, it is Provençal spread made from Mediterranean black olives, capers, and anchovy. We like to mix it up by combining black and green olives. It can be pureed to a pesto consistency but we often leave ours a bit more chunky, closer to the olive spread in a muffuletta sandwich, the classic lunch favourite among Italian immigrants in New Orleans.

Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade

It’s a must-have ingredient for our Stuffed Picnic Sandwich!

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Besides using it on a sandwich, it’s great tossed with cold or warm pasta, and tasty on slices of baguette with goat cheese. It can pep up plain quinoa, grilled vegetables, or fish.

Recipe makes about 1 cup

  • 1 – 2 cloves peeled garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 anchovies, minced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes, minced
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained & roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup green olives with pimento, drained & finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, drained & finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 – 1 Tbsp olive oil, depending on desired consistency
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients together well. If you want to omit all the chopping, place the whole ingredients into a food processor and puree until you reach the desired consistency.

Use right away or cover and keep in the fridge up to a week. Enjoy!

Muffuletta Sandwich

Muffuletta Sandwich

 

… Or as it is simply called in our household, The Big Sandwich. We’ve been making The Big Sandwich to take on picnic outings for years but discovered this last summer what a great option it makes for camping! We typically arrive at a new campsite in mid to late afternoon. It’s really nice to have an easy meal planned for that first night, or something to dig out and feed the restless troops while we set up camp. Unwrap The Big Sandwich and cut some wedges off. It’s delicious and filling. If you don’t finish the entire sandwich in one sitting, simply wrap the remainder back up and put it in the cooler for lunch or a snack the next day.

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

Stuffed Picnic Sandwich

The sandwich is assembled in a large hollowed out loaf layered with pesto, olive spread, cheese slices, deli meats, roasted red peppers, and anything else your family enjoys. It’s prepared a day a head and wrapped up tight in the fridge overnight. This is a key step in the deliciousness of The Big Sandwich! It keeps surprisingly well for up to three days in an RV fridge or ice cooler.

There are a few tips for making the sandwich:

  • Choose a round or oblong loaf with a soft interior but firm enough crust to keep from getting too squishy and scoop it out to within 1/4-1/2 inch of the edges. Save the bread and set aside.
  • Spread a layer of pesto around the inside of the hollowed out loaf and add another spread like hummus or olive tapenade if you like (check out our recipe for homemade tapenade).
  • Thin slices of cheese create a barrier between the pesto and the fillings. Havarti, Provolone, Swiss, and Monterrey Jack are great choices. Anything that you can pick up pre-sliced and won’t crumble.
  • Use three to four meats. Traditionally, they would be all Italian or spicy Italian varieties but a good old submarine sandwich combo of ham, turkey, and bologna works, too.
  • We add a layer of roasted red peppers that have been patted dry (our video shows you how easy it is to make your own roasted bell peppers). Mild green chiles or pepperoncinis are great, too, but steer clear of items that will get mushy over time like fresh tomatoes or avocado.
  • If there is still room after the meats have been used up, tear up some of the reserved bread and toss with a little pesto or olive oil to fill the sandwich to the top. Another layer of cheese is the last thing to go on before replacing the top.
Muffuletta Sandwich

Muffuletta Sandwich

TIP: For food safety, always make sure your fridge or cooler is at a proper temp (0°-4°C/32°-40°F) but tucking an inexpensive fridge thermometer inside.

fridge-temp

On our last day of a camping trip we like to plan an easy breakfast involving minimal clean-up. Often we make bagel sandwiches but really enjoyed this breakfast flatbread on our last trip.

South American Breakfast Flatbread

For this one, we used leftover homemade chimichurri which is an Argentinian herb & garlic sauce. A simple drizzle of good olive oil would work just fine.

Choose any type of flatbread such as naan, pita, focaccia, pre-baked pizza crust, or even English muffins.

Serves 2

  • 1 medium-sized flatbread
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chimichurri (recipe follows)
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon oil for frying eggs
  • chipotle hot sauce, optional

Naan with chimichurri & avocado

Warm flatbread over moderate heat. Spread with chimichurri. Cut avocado in half and remove pit. Hold one half and slice lengthwise, then across, with a paring knife, careful not to cut all the way through the skin. Repeat with the other half. Turn over and squeeze out over the flatbread. Smash and spread out evenly with a fork.

Sliced Tomatoes

Slice tomato and place over avocado. Heat oil in a pan and fry two eggs, sunny-side up.

TIP: When cooking eggs sunny-side up, place a lid over the pan after they have set and the trapped heat will help cook the tops perfectly.

Latin Breakfast Pizza

Slide eggs over the tomatoes. Top with chipotle hot sauce, if desired, or simply a grind of salt and pepper.

CJ Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • hot pepper or pepper flakes, optional

Snip the ends and roots off the herb bunches but keep in mind that you’ll use both the leaves and stems so you don’t have to pick the leaves off. Place the bunches in a large colander or salad spinner. rinse well, and shake or spin to dry.

Place the and garlic in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. Add about half a lemon’s worth of juice. Put the top on and drizzle olive oil through the inlet while the processor is running, until the mixture is slightly loose but not runny. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper to taste. You may need to add more lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) and olive oil.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri

Scrape out into a container, cover, and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

When the heat of the summer zaps your energy and the last thing you want to do after a day at the beach or hiking/biking the trails, is stand in front of a stove or campfire cooking dinner, we have the solution.

On a recent camping trip, we knew the weather was going to hit high temps and that our site would be very exposed. Our tent trailer doesn’t have air conditioning, and we prefer being outside anyway. Therefore, we planned on a cold supper with a few simple ingredients.

Caprese salad is a traditional Italian first course made with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella (bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella), fresh basil, drizzled with good olive and sprinkled with salt. We like to add a grind of pepper and drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, as well.

Bring along a baguette for sopping up the juices on the platter. If you want to add extra protein, sliced salami, mild or hot, is a nice addition, although we didn’t really need it and saved most for bagel sandwiches the next day.

We asked our sommelier friend, Christopher Wilton, of The Small Winemakers Collection and Wilton Wine Consulting, for a recommendation to go with the Caprese salad. He suggested any Italian white other than Pinot Grigio.  We chose an inexpensive Soave Classico. It was spot on, light and refreshing.

Caprese Salad

If you have leftover ingredients, make a Caprese Omelet for breakfast the next morning. Delicious!

 

Many of us are familiar with Japanese teriyaki sauces and marinades. Korean versions are similar but sweeter and just as salty and savoury. Both make great use of the umami (the fifth flavour) in soy sauce, A true marinade involves a combination of oil and acid which will penetrate proteins. Each version adds appropriate flavourings.

Most commercial Korean sauces we’ve tried are too sweet and not true marinades, more like glazes or BBQ sauces. This marinade recipe is suited for many cuts of beef, venison, pork, chicken, or even tofu. It’s a little too strong for seafood.

Dave’s Korean Marinade

  • 2/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin rice wine
  • 1-1/2 inch finely grated ginger
  • 4 large finely minced garlic cloves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Stir to mix, remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Here are two favourite items we use Korean marinade on…

Korean Short Ribs on the Grill

Korean Short Ribs on the Grill

Korean Short Ribs with Rice and Grilled Veggies & Pineapple

Korean Short Ribs with Rice and Grilled Veggies & Pineapple

Beef Skewers with Veggies & Rice (chicken skewers work great, too!)

Beef Skewers with Veggies & Fried Rice (chicken skewers work great, too!)

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian steak sauce which is interesting because it is nothing like the North American idea of steak sauce. Yet, if you top a lovely grilled steak with it, you will understand!

Chimichurri

Chimichurri

The herby flavoured sauce relies mainly on fresh parsley. Many varieties exist throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Some use oregano and others contain a lot of cilantro. We favour the cilantro/parsley combination. If you are one of the folks for whom cilantro tastes like soap (it’s a real affliction) substitute your preferred herb to go along with parsley.

What we like best about chimichurri is that it’s such an amazingly simple but versatile sauce for beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, fish, game, vegetables, and even tofu. Use it straight as a condiment, finishing sauce, basting sauce, or marinade. We’ve also mixed it with melted butter for basting vegetables and seafood. Add a spoonful to plain vinaigrette for an awesome salad dressing. It also makes a unique pizza sauce, bruschetta topping, or addition to a dip.

It blends into many cuisines. We make South American dishes with it as well as Tex-Mex (corn & black bean salad), Mexican (fish tacos), Spanish (potato & chorizo pockets), Italian (pizza & bruschetta base), Greek (souvlaki), and Thai (spicy coconut soup).

CJ Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • hot pepper or pepper flakes, optional

Snip the ends and roots off the herb bunches but keep in mind that you’ll use both the leaves and stems so you don’t have to pick the leaves off. Place the bunches in a large colander or salad spinner. rinse well, and shake or spin to dry.

Place the and garlic in a food processor and pulse until evenly chopped. Add about half a lemon’s worth of juice. Put the top on and drizzle olive oil through the inlet while the processor is running, until the mixture is slightly loose but not runny. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and hot pepper to taste. You may need to add more lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) and olive oil.

Scrape out into a container, cover, and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

These are some of the dishes we’ve used chimichurri on…

South American Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza: Naan bread, chimichurri, smashed avocado, sliced tomato, sunny side up eggs, and chipotle hot sauce

Canned Potatoes and Chorizo with Chimichurri, Fresh Cilantro, and Grilled Lime

Brunch or Lunch Pockets: Canned Potatoes and Chorizo with Chimichurri, Fresh Cilantro, and Grilled Lime served up in Pita Pockets

Greek Dinner: Pork Souvlaki with Sautéed Onion & Bell Peppers, Tzatziki served in Pita Bread

Souvlaki Dinner: Chimichurri Marinated Pork Strips with Sautéed Onion & Bell Peppers, Tzatziki served in Pita Bread

Surf & Turf Grill: Grilled Steak Topped with Chimichurri, Grilled Lobster Tails and Corn-on-the-Cob Basted with Chimichurri Butter

Surf & Turf Grill: Grilled Steak Topped with Chimichurri, Grilled Lobster Tails and Corn-on-the-Cob Basted with Chimichurri Butter

 

 

 

Korean Short Ribs

Korean style short ribs are perfect for camping because the traditionally thin cut cooks quickly over the grill or campfire. These ribs are cut thinly across the bones rather than along the length of the bone. They are quite rich, so a little goes a long way. Look for Korean short ribs at an Asian market or specialty butcher. Sometimes they are frozen.

Most of the commercial Korean sauces we’ve tried are too sweet and not true marinades, more like glazes or BBQ sauces. This marinade recipe is suited for many cuts of beef, venison, pork, chicken, or even tofu. It’s a little too strong for seafood.

Dave’s Korean Marinade

  • 2/3 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin rice wine
  • 1-1/2 inch finely grated ginger
  • 4 large finely minced garlic cloves
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Stir to mix, remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Korean Short Ribs with Vegetables & Pineapple

  • 1 – 2 sections of short ribs per person (about 5 bones across each)
  • 1/4 red bell pepper per person, sliced into strips
  • 1 cup broccoli florets per person
  • 3 sliced pineapple rings per person, fresh or canned
  • salt & pepper
  • rice, optional
  • vegetable oil for the grill

Place meat in the marinade in a shallow dish or zip-lock bag. Marinate overnight in the fridge.

Korean Short Ribs on the Grill

Korean Short Ribs on the Grill

Set up your grill for medium-high heat. Wipe your grill with vegetable oil. Remove meat from the marinade, wiping off the excess. Place on the grill and cook approximately 2 mins per side, careful to watch for flare ups.

Meanwhile, cook the rice in a pan or reheat pre-cooked rice. Grill the vegetables turning frequently to develop a little char. Grill the pineapple slices just until you see light grill marks. (Our daughter is not a fan of grilled fruit, so you can also leave the pineapple fresh).

Korean Short Ribs with Rice and Grilled Veggies & Pineapple

Korean Short Ribs with Rice and Grilled Veggies & Pineapple

Serve everything up and enjoy! It’s OK to eat the ribs with your fingers because they are, after all, RIBS!