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Dinner Recipe: Pesto Noodles

Pesto Noodles, an inexpensive and simple, yet hearty, backpacking dinner recipe. Rather than strive for perfect at-home consistency as photographyed, I add extra water in order to ease the cooking process and to get a delicious broth.

Pesto Noodles, an inexpensive and simple, yet hearty, backpacking dinner recipe. Rather than strive for perfect at-home consistency as photographyed, I add extra water in order to ease the cooking process and to get a delicious broth.

Pesto Noodles is not normally competitive with Beans & Rice or Thai Peanut Noodles for a group’s favorite dinner recipe, but it is a reliable third or fourth option in my backpacking cook book. And it’s certainly not to be overlooked: I’ve probably eaten more Pesto Noodles this summer than any other meal, because it’s still that good.

Meal stats

  • Recommended meal weight: 5.7 oz
  • Total calories: 754
  • Caloric density: 133 calories/ounce

To increase the caloric density, which is already very high, add more olive oil or Noodles (which are fried).

Per usual for my backpacking recipes, these ingredients are widely available. Note: The raisins don't belong in this image.

Per usual for my backpacking recipes, these ingredients are widely available. Note: The raisins don’t belong in this image.

Ingredients

For extra goodness, drop in some chunks of salami, beef jerky, or similar.

Noodles in the center and olive oil in the cup. From there, clockwise: Parmesean, spices (3x), and sun-dried tomatoes.

Noodles in the center and olive oil in the cup. From there, clockwise: Parmesan, spices (3x), and sun-dried tomatoes.

At-home preparation

Discard the MSG-loaded seasoning packet in the bag of noodles, either at home or in the field.

For single-servings, all ingredients should be bagged together, except for the Parmesan — keep that separate. I store the olive oil in a 16-oz Platypus Soft Bottle, inside of a gallon-sized plastic bag for extra protection.

In a group setting, each group member receives their own ration of noodles, and all of the other ingredients (Parmesan, olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, and spices) are packaged separately. Divide them in the field. Store the olive oil in 16- or 32-oz Platypus bottles, or hard-sided Nalgene bottles if weight is less of a concern; either way, keep the bottle in a gallon-sized plastic bag.

Lower right two bags: individual portion; olive oil not in photo. All other bags: group packaging.

Lower right two bags: individual portion; olive oil not in photo. All other bags: group packaging.

Cooking instructions

I prefer soupy meals. But for perfect at-home consistency:

  1. Bring 10 oz of water to a boil, or a near-boil
  2. Add all ingredients, save for the Parmesan; the seasoning packet should be discarded. Stir and let reconstitute. No simmer is needed, but a longer soak will help soften up leathery sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Once the ingredients have cooked and the pot has been removed from the stove, add the Parmesan. Unless you want a gooey cheese mess in your pot, do not jump the gun on the Parmesan.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

12 Responses to Dinner Recipe: Pesto Noodles

  1. Jason Weddle September 7, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    Awesome posts and recipe, thank you!

    In the picture of the packaged ingredients you have raisins but you don’t have them in the recipe. Are raisins supposed to be in the recipe?

    In the plated picture you have 3x spices, I can make out 2 of the 3… basil, garlic and what’s the other green spice? The only green spice listed is the basil.

    Thanks for having the best backpacking website out there and I support the content as much as possible!

    • Andrew Skurka September 7, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      The raisins should not have been in that photo. They were nearby for another recipe, curry couscous, and I mistakenly included them in the photo for the Pesto Noodles.

      The third mystery spice is described on the container as “Spicy Spaghetti” spice. I think it’s a Sam’s Club product. It’s just more Italian spices: more garlic and basil, plus oregano, dried onions, and other stuff. Totally optional; I use it because I have it, and I want to use it up, but it’s not necessary.

  2. Jay Kerr September 8, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    I have a similar recipe which was voted #1 on our recent North Lake – South Lake loop hike in SEKi last month. Instead of ramen I cooked angel hair pasta then popped the pasta into the food dehydrator overnight. For the pesto I used off-the-shelf pesto seasoning mix. I tried to dehydrate some actual pesto, but the fat content separated out, so I went with the seasoning mix.

  3. andrew weldon October 13, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    I’ve been doing this with a bit less basil and adding in the knorr vegetable mix. Love it.

  4. Matt January 26, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    How do you convert the weight of ingredients to cooking measurements?

    • Andrew Skurka January 26, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      I don’t. I use a plostal scale to weigh everything. This approach scales much better to large batches.

  5. Jim White June 3, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    How about making this with Thai rice stick noodles?

    • Andrew Skurka June 3, 2016 at 10:44 am #

      Not as familiar with them, but no reason why it shouldn’t work so long as they cook about as quickly. I like ramen because it is (1) cheap, (2) calorically dense, and (3) widely available.

  6. Ashley July 29, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

    Love this recipe. Recently tried it out with the addition of pine nuts, which upped the protein/fat even more. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Matt Swider August 19, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

    This meal was the favorite of several of the 10 people on our recent High Sierra Trail trek. The second night we this we added a couple ounces of jerky, and it was even better. Shared some with our vegetarian friends and they gobbled it up, jerky and all. At least for our tastes this is a solid first string meal.

  8. Alex Harros July 30, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    Do you use remoistened sundried tomatoes (w/ oil or water) or are they dry?

    • Andrew Skurka July 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      They are dried, no oil. By putting them in the pot early in the process, they will soften up.

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