One Pot Protein Pasta
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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 a campsite at Lower Onion Creek, just across from the famous rock spire: Fischer Rock. In what is quickly becoming a 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 of 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!
One Pot Protein Pasta
- 10" Skillet
- Knife + Cutting Board
- Spoon or spatula
- Measuring Cups + Spoons
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, (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.
You guys are so lucky you scored a spot on the bend!! We’ve been shut out every single time and had to opt for KOA or backcountry! This pasta looks delicious and super filling – perfect for after a long day of hiking 🙂
btw… totally love whatever plugin you used for the “click to pin this” banner!! 😀
After being super “meh” about Pin button plugin designs, I saw this on Pinch of Yum and loved it. I couldn’t find any WP plugin for it, so our developer friend (actually, the guy we camped with in this post!) created it for us!
We were stoked to find it – probably helped that it was mid week. Moab was BONKERS on the weekend.
Now, this is something I’d make at home!
Nice, I used the pin button 🙂 This looks delicious and easy. I never thought about cooking the pasta in the sauce. We have more indoor space than you guys (and a colander!) but I still can’t justify boiling a pot of water in our trailer in the summer. I will definitely try this!
Can’t blame you for not wanting to boil water in a small space in the summer!!! Cooking pasta in the sauce has been a game changer for us. It takes a little more attention since you have to stir it during the cooking process so that all of the pasta cooks evenly, but it’s totally worth it to not have to worry about disposing of the cooking water.
This looks absolutely scrumptious. I just found your website/blog and am so excited to follow you guys!
I made this with spinach and regular pasta noodles (couldn’t find lental). The family liked it. Very fast to make and love the one pot.
Thanks for the recipe.
So glad that your family enjoyed this meal, Denise!
Yeah, finding the lentil pasta can be tricky depending on your grocery store’s selection (if you have access to a Trader Joe’s, they carry a version there), but regular pasta is just as good!
Sounds good but without lentil pasta keep in mind it is missing the extra protein which was specific to this recipe. ????
This took a lot longer to cook the noodles than the recommended time, but it was really good! I added mushrooms to the kale mixture and dried mushrooms to the tomato sauce as well as a splash of balsamic and I’m so very very happy with how it turned out!!! Will for sure make again, awesome vegan meal!
Glad you enjoyed it. Sorry for the extended cook time. It probably varies pretty widely depending on the brand of pasta. Which type did you end up going with?
It was the Trader Joe’s Organic Red Lentil Sedanini. Either way, it got made as part of prep for the week and it was absolutely delicious! It kept well in the fridge and the pasta stayed tender and flavorful. Thank you so much for the awesome inspiration for that recipe! I will definitely make again!
Camping with another family this weekend (4 adults/3kids total) and gonna try this out since one is vegan, 3 vegetarian, and others are meat eaters. Im doing a trial run at home first to gage my quantities for more ppl than the original recipe asks for. Wish me luck!
The directions call for water. How much?
For this recipe, we used 2 cups of water. (See “For The Pasta” section of the recipe card.)
Totally off topic, but your boxes for organizing your camping look amazing! I might have to go build something similar. Why are there slight recesses on the one side if you don’t mind?
Excited to try this recipe next month.
Ashley – those had a unique shape because we used them as part of our car-camping bed platform. The boxes fit on the floor of the backseat area in our car, so the recesses were included to accommodate the funky shape in the footwells. If you’re just making them for camp-storage boxes the recesses probably aren’t necessary!
Do you have pot/pan recs for cooking larger portions? We eat a lot so this recipe would only feed 2. Going on a trip soon and I need to feed 5 adults. I see how your recipes can be scalable…but none of my pots and pans are big enough! Having trouble trying to figure out how to feed everyone without making multiple meals/relying on beyond burgers (because those are easy to cook separate).
So Lodge makes a variety of large skillets. The largest we own is a 12″ which is about as big as you can get and still have the skillet fit on a standard camp stove. If you need something larger, you may want to look into their deep dish Dutch ovens, we can be used as a skillet or pot. This gives you more volume, by increasing the height while keeping the same diameter, so you can fit it on the stove. After that you will want to consider a larger stove setup or perhaps using two single burners.