Combining red lentil pasta with garlicky sauteed kale, this super easy one pot camping meal delivers a ton of protein while still being completely vegetarian.
After thoroughly exploring St. George and Zion National Park, we drove east to the red rock arches of Moab, UT. Southern Utah is filled with some of the most spectacular rock formations in the world, and we were once again floored by how awesome the landscape was when we got there.
As fate would have it, our paths once again crossed with our friends Brandt & Monika (IG @CodeTravelers) who have a sweet 4×4 Sprinter van! It was high season in Moab and the crowds from Salt Lake and Colorado had descended upon the area, so we were lucky to find campsite at Lower Onion Creek, just across from the famous rock spire: Fischer Rock. In what is quickly becoming tradition between us, Brandt & Monika picked up the campsite and we volunteered to cook dinner.
While the City Market grocery store in Moab is totally adequate, the recent influx of weekend warriors had reduced the selection greatly. So we had to take what we could, and rely on our camping pantry for the rest. We had been carrying around a bag of red lentil penne pasta for awhile and wanted to give it a try.
We recently learned how much protein red lentils contain (a whole bunch!) and felt they would make a great base to a one pot pasta dish. Since we don’t have a cooler to store meat, sometimes we have to get a little creative with how we get our protein. But red lentils just might be the answer!
Back at camp, we sauteed some kale with garlic in our cast iron skillet. Once that was ready, we removed and put it to the side. We hate straining pasta out in the field (who takes a colander camping?) so we decided to cook the pasta right in the sauce. Not only does this reduce the hassle – and potential catastrophe – of disposing a couple liters of boiling water, but it also adds flavor to the pasta and makes a more delicious tasting sauce. Plus, it means one less dish to clean at the end!
The meal was ready in no time, and gone in just about the same. As the sun began to set, turning the red rock cliffs into a deep fiery crimson, we felt full, content, and thankful. Sharing a good meal with good friends, in a spectacular place like this is what camp cooking is all about. More of this please!
Equipment & Ingredients Used in this Recipe
Camp Stove – The classic two-burner stove from Coleman has been a stalwart of camp cooking for generations. It’s time-tested, durable, and uses those green propane fuel canisters that can be found virtually everywhere.
10.25 Cast Iron Skillet – Our go-to pan for camping, a cast iron skillet can be endlessly re-seasoned, used on a camp stove as well as over an open fire, and easily cleaned.
Chef’s Knife – An essential part of any kitchen, camping or otherwise, a quality chef’s knife is an absolute must.
Cutting Board – We’ve seen a lot of campground picnic tables over the course of our travels, and you do not want to prepare food on any of them. Bring along a small, portable cutting board, to make food prepping safe and sanitary.
Spatula – A good spatula is a versatile camp cooking utensil. We prefer an all metal spatula, so it can be used on a grill or over an open fire.
Tongs – If you’re cooking over an open fire, a pair of tongs are invaluable. Flip steaks and rotate corn, all without singeing your hand.
Steel Enamel Plates – Leave the ceramicware at home, and pick up some tough-as-nails steel enamelware plates.
Lentil Pasta – We used Red Lentil Mixed Penne Pasta by Modern Table for our meal, but there are a lot of different types of red lentil pastas out there. Check your pasta aisle in your local grocery store. We’re see more and more options offered all over the country!
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- FOR THE KALE
- 1 head kale, destemmed and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- FOR THE PASTA
- 1 (23 oz) jar tomato sauce + 2 cups water
- 10 oz lentil pasta
- ¼ cup cheese - we used parmesan (omit to make this recipe vegan)
- Cook the kale: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, and the red pepper flakes over in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the kale, garlic, and salt and saute until the kale is tender. Remove the kale from the skillet and set aside.
- Cook the pasta: Add the tomato sauce and water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and cook for the time recommended on the package, or until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently to ensure the pasta cooks evenly. Stir the cooked kale into the sauce to warm and take the skillet off the heat.
- Assemble and serve: Sprinkle cheese over the top, if using, and serve.