If the thought of pesto, tossed with shaved asparagus and roasted tomatoes, seems far off from camping, I’m with you. But if that thought, along with the image of mint mojitos by the fire, sounds amazing, I’m undoubtedly with you, too.
This year I learned you need to book a campsite well in advance if you want to tent it out over Memorial Day weekend. Because apparently everyone else wants to do that, too.
So much for spontaneity these days. Oh, and having the planning part covered by mom. Big kid problems.
I was determined to go camping this Memorial Day, and a bunch of booked campsites wasn’t going to get me down.
Plan B – Camp out at my madre’s house, a haven 2 hours outside the city that might as well be taken from the pages of Henry Thoreau. See field photo above. Not a bad alternative. (Just don’t compare my writing to Thoreau. I prefer a caveman-like brevity to never-ending sentences.)
Plan B turned into a bunch of Philly and hometown friends joining me for mojitos by the fire made from just picked mint via mom’s herb garden. It turned into watching hot air balloons sail, and then the sun fall, from the comfort of our front deck. It turned into setting up tents in a free backyard. And it turned into a conclusion of sleeping soundly inside.
Ah, yes. A mint-mojito-shaved-asparagus campout was never destined for sleeping outside, was it? To be fair, I will blame my friends for coercing me indoors. And also to be fair, we had one lone camper who roughed it out in his tent.
Now onto the food. While pesto might not seem like standard camping fare, for my vegetarian family, it was always a go-to. It keeps well in a cooler, and tastes fine both hot or cold. Plus, we always make it in large batches during the summer, when the garden basil’s at its peak, so it becomes an easy meal to pop out from the freezer.
It’s still too early to see basil thriving. But both my mom and I still have several pesto batches holding out from last season in our freezer.
When you’ve got the pesto part already made, sprucing it up to make it a little richer and fancier becomes easy and fathomable. Although, the pesto itself is not hard to make — so even if you don’t get a chance to make it ahead of time, I still recommend taking the time to include the tomatoes and asparagus seen here, too.
Asparagus has always been a springtime favorite, but it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered its utility in raw form. Slightly grassy and crisp, here it adds a refreshing and light crunch to what can feel like a full-bodied pasta dish. It pairs well with the tomatoes, whose flavor is drawn out and intensified via a little time in the oven. I love roasted tomatoes, so when I’m making this recipe, I’m roasting extra for me, and me only.
Maybe this isn’t your ideal grab-and-go camping dish, but it’s definitely an all-star bowl to include at your picnic or BBQ outing. It’s best hot, but still tastes great at room temp., and since it’s vegan, it’ll survive outside, too. Plate it up alongside a hotdog, and I challenge you to determine the winner. My bet’s on the pesto.
Vegan pesto gets tossed with whole wheat pasta and enriched with flavor from crisp shaved asparagus and vibrant roasted tomatoes. The perfect vegan dish for your next picnic or BBQ.
- 1 lb. whole wheat spaghettini
- 2 1/2 cups grape tomatoes
- 5 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 batch of vegan pesto, recipe to follow (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 6 medium asparagus, shaved with a peeler
- Coarse salt and pepper
- Preheat oven 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place tomatoes and garlic on top, and toss with olive oil, to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook 12-15 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to burst. Switch oven to broiler. Continue to cook tomatoes until they start to caramelize, about 5 minutes, letting some of the extra water cook off.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, and make pesto.
- Toss shaved asparagus with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss pasta with pesto and 1/2 of the shaved asparagus and tomatoes. Check seasoning, adding more salt/pepper, if needed. Garnish the top with the remaining tomatoes and asparagus. Serve.
- -2 medium cloves garlic
- -1 1/2 heaping, packed cups of basil
- -1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- -1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- -1 tsp. salt
- -1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- -2 Tbsp. reserved pasta water, optional
- Pulse garlic in a food processor. Add in basil, nutritional yeast, nuts, and salt. Begin to puree ingredients, slowly drizzling olive oil into the mixture through the top of the food processor. Add the 2 tbsp. of reserved pasta water, if using, or 2 Tbsp. warm water if not thin enough. Puree until smooth.
- Use, or freeze immediately for up to 6 months.