With warmer weather and sunnier skies already here, Oregonians are gearing up for prime camping season. Whether it’s a quick overnighter or a week-long affair, there’s no therapy like the simple pleasure of enjoying a good meal over the fire and under the stars. While classic camp food like franks and beans have fared well in the past, many of us have grown into foodies and would like nothing better than to combine our two loves: great food and the beautiful outdoors.
The summer farmers’ market is in full swing, and there’s no reason why Corvallisites can’t bring the bounty of the Valley to their campsites. The two main criteria to keep in mind when choosing camp-friendly foods are quick cooking times and little or no need for refrigeration. While this isn’t always possible for every food item, choosing plenty of fresh produce and dry goods should help save space in the cooler for proteins.
The following “foodie-friendly” camping meals are best suited for car camping; the only cooking equipment needed is a camp stove or a grill grate set over a fire.
Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Sausage in Marinara
Hearty and filling, this dish is comforting, and the only item requiring space in the cooler is the sausage. It can be any variety, but a fully cooked sausage is best to save time and camp fuel. You can purchase pre-made gnocchi at almost any grocery store, or if you’re the punishing type, whip them up from scratch and hand-shape each one ahead of time. Use crimini, portabello, chanterelle, or morel mushrooms and your favorite marinara, store-bought or homemade. Pair with a spicy Syrah or Malbec, which need no refrigeration.
- Boil gnocchi for a few minutes until they float. Drain and set aside.
- Using same pot, saute mushrooms and sausage til hot, then add cooked gnocchi and sauce.
Marinated Skirt Steak with Roasted Corn on the Cob and Heirloom Tomatoes
Short cooking times make this cut of beef quite possibly the quintessential campfire food. Prepare ahead of time a simple marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, cumin, and chili powder and let the steak marinate at least one hour. The veggies for this dish do not need any refrigeration and can be found at multiple stands at the farmers’ market. Pair with a growler of your favorite IPA or pale ale, which can be kept cool in a nearby stream.
- Set the grate about four inches above a low campfire.
- Grill the marinated steak about two minutes per side for medium rare. Let it rest so the juices redistribute, about five minutes.
- Roast the husked corn on campfire grill grate until golden brown on all sides. Coat with butter, olive oil, or mayonnaise and season to liking.
- Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Slice the steak against the grain into strips.
Hobo Packs with Fish, Herb Butter, and Summer Vegetables
Camping anywhere near bodies of water provides access to fresh fish, either by catching it or purchasing it from the local fish market. If acquired the same day, it won’t take up valuable cooler space. The only make-ahead prep needed for this dish is the herb butter, which can be made by mixing soft butter with chopped herbs of your choice. Cilantro, parsley, tarragon, and chives are excellent choices for a delicate fish. Summer veggies like bell peppers, corn, mushrooms, and squash are light, flavorful, and will match the cooking times of any fish. Pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris.
- Cut aluminum foil into large squares.
- Layer from bottom up: veggies, herb butter, fish fillet, and more herb butter.
- Wrap up hobo packs tightly and place directly on hot coals or grill grate.
- Cook for about seven minutes or until fish is opaque all the way through.
“Beer pancakes with bacon and eggs.” – Sarah Farey, Head Chef at Block 15 Restaurant and Brewery
“Pork and wild mushroom roulade. Pork loin, white elm mushrooms, garlic, onions, spinach, and fontina cheese. Rolled and wrapped in wild boar bacon and roasted in a Dutch oven.” – Ethan Flom, Head Chef at Luc
“A killer cast-iron breakfast hash: eggs, bacon, and coffee in a Moka Pot. I’ve also used ingredients from the previous evening – burger fixings like onions and tomatoes, sometimes bratwurst – whatever’s on hand.” – Dana Hurff, Head Chef at Les Caves Bier and Kitchen
“Garden vegetable Triscut-crusted rainbow trout. I always have Triscuts when I go camping, and if I’m lucky enough to catch some rainbow trout it makes a great crust. Just dip your fish in a little egg wash, dredge it in some crushed-up Triscuts, fry in a hot cast iron with butter, and you have a tasty fish!” – Cody Martin, Executive Chef at Corvallis Country Club
“Chocolate Scotty. It’s a morning pick-me-up, afternoon nap inducer, evening aperitif, and late night country song driver. Mix three parts hot cocoa mix with one part instant coffee. Place in your favorite ol’ camp mug and add hot water. Then add a suitable amount of Black Velvet Canadian Whisky. Sing Alannah Myles’ ‘Black Velvet’ on the first toast.” – Matthew Otten, Chief Check Writer and Purveyor of Fine Beers at Terminus
By Bridget Olson