Camping has the Best Food
As I mentioned earlier Nick and I took a great vacation a couple weeks ago. Eight gorgeous days up the California coast. We had a blast stopping at breweries, going out to dinner, and wine tasting in Paso Robles. But if I had to pick the very best part I would say camping at Reyes Creek in the Los Padres was my favorite. I LOVE to camp! Even more, I love to cook while camping! Sure, I do easy stuff like steak or kebabs. But I also like to take the opportunity to challenge myself. To make something that seems out of place over a campfire. This time I really went for it. I wanted to make something that would be so satisfying when it was ready. Something you would never expect to have miles away from running water and electricity.
Pretty bad ass, right?
We got the fire going early, really got it stoked with some long-burning logs so it would be a nice, low, very hot bed of coals. I wanted as much of an oven environment that I could get. I also used no-boil noodles, because f*ck boiling water at higher altitudes.
I also did a little prep work at home. I got the ricotta-spinach mixture ready and packed it in a Tupperware and into the ice chest before we left. Seemed like the obvious thing to do ahead of time.
I started it early and really took my time with it. My biggest fear was that it would burn on the bottom before noodles had a chance to cook through and become al dente. But it turned out perfect! Didn’t scorch an inch of it! And the mozzarella on top had an amazing, light smokiness to it! Nick admitted to me after his third serving that he was a little skeptical I could pull this one off.
1 small container Ricotta Cheese
1 package frozen Spinach, defrosted and drained completely
1 pinch Nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
1 jar Pasta/Marinara Sauce (homemade or store bought)
1 15oz can Diced Tomatoes
2-3 Tbsp Pesto
1 Lb ground Turkey (or Beef)
1 small Sweet Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 6oz can Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 box No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
1 8oz tub Ovolini Mozzarella, sliced
2-3 Tbsp seasoning mix*
1. Up to 1 day ahead prepare seasoning mix* as follows: 1 tbsp freshly ground pepper, 1/2 tbsp kosher salt, 1 1/2 tbsp ground oregano, 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Combine and store in small Tupperware.
2. Up to 1 day ahead prepare ricotta-spinach mixture as follows: Combine ricotta, spinach, egg, 1 tbsp seasoning mix and a pinch of nutmeg. Store in medium Tupperware.
3. Day of in a large bowl combine the pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, and pesto. Set aside.
4. When coals are burning steady, low and very hot place 12″ cast iron skillet on grill. Add oil, onions, garlic, tomato paste, 1 tbsp seasoning, and ground turkey. Brown turkey. Remove turkey mixture from skillet and combine with pasta sauce.
5. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the meat sauce. Breaking pieces as needed to fit, place a layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Then nearly half the sauce over the ricotta. Layer again with noodles, ricotta and sauce. Once more with noodles and the remaining sauce. Top with the mozzarella slices and sprinkle with a teaspoon of seasoning.
6. Tent with foil and place on grill for about 1 hour, moving as needed to keep heat constant and to avoid burning the bottom.
It should be done after about 45 minutes to 1 hr. You may need to prod it with a fork or knife to check for doneness.