Italian Lasagna for Hikers on the Appalachian Trail

Purchasing ready-made meals for long-distance hiking trips is prohibitive for most people. While some brands taste very good, others are less than desirable. I don’t want to find out which meal I have when I’m 200 miles in and very hungry. From a culinary standpoint, it just makes sense to create your meals at home, and try them first. Most of the recipes I have shared with my audience are my own recipes. Some, I adapt from other cook’s recipes. I will even post recipes and give full credit to other hikers who have done the same. The home-prepared meals are economical, delicious, prepare easily on the trail, and will make your mouth water in anticipation. Seal in fresh ingredients, and take the time to cook them on the trail. The effort is worth it.

While some hikers prefer to precook these meals and then dehydrate them, I don’t. I have tried it too, but you lose the savory aroma of the herbs. You need to add more salt for it to taste good. There is not much nutrition left in spaghetti that has been cooked, and cooked, and cooked again. The textures are unappetizing, and personally, when I first bagged up my cooked spaghetti with sauce that was dehydrated into a round mess, it looked kind of like garbage. My sauce was wonderful, but by the time it was processed, it even tasted like garbage….a dead thing…and was composted for the worms. Even when preparation takes a lot of time, the results are far superior to ready-made or precooked.

Hiker’s Lasagna for the Trail (very large serving or divide into two)
Sauce:
1/8 cup dehydrated ground beef
1/8 cup Honeyville freeze-dried sausage
6 tbsp. tomato powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Harmony House dehydrated onion
1 tsp. Harmony House dehydrated bell pepper
1 tsp. brown sugar
¼ tsp. coarse salt
¼ tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 ¾ cups or more water

Cheese Filling:
1/8 cup dehydrated cottage cheese
1 tsp. Meyenburg goat milk powder
1 tbsp. Parmesan
1/8 tsp egg replacer
½ tsp parsley flakes or dehydrated spinach flakes
Water for reconstituting

Topping:
1 to 2 tbsp. freeze-dried or dehydrated mozzarella
1 tbsp. Home-made dehydrated garlic bread croutons

Pasta:
2 ounces Mafalda pasta (looks like mini lasagna noodles)

Seal sauce ingredients in a bag with an oxygen absorber. Combine cheese filling well and seal in a separate bag. Seal small bags of the toppings. Finally put the pasta into a larger bag which will hold all the ingredients. Fill this bag with 1 sauce package, 1 cheese filling bag, 1 topping bag (or 2, however many bags you use for them) and seal, preferably with an oxygen absorber.

On the trail, boil pasta first. While boiling pasta, rehydrate cheese filling with just enough water added to the bag to make a creamy, pourable filling. Pour the water from the pasta into another cooking pot and add more water to make 1 ½ cups. Add sauce packet to this water and boil, then simmer until meats and vegetables have rehydrated and sauce is heated through. Mix pasta with cooked sauce. With a spoon, open up spaces in the pasta mix to squeeze the filling into. Do this by snipping a corner of the bag, and simply squirting the filling into the pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella over it all and toss on croutons for your garlic bread. Voila! Hot Italian Supper on the Trail…

**While some people like to pour the starchy water off their pasta, I want to consume that starch for energy on the trail. Reserve the water for the sauce. If you want to drain away those calories, the herb Cleavers makes a very good colander in the wild. If you can find it, just curl it up into a bowl. It will stick together nicely and you can pour your boiling pasta right into it. Cleavers makes a very good tea as well.

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