“Glamping”– or, Glamour Camping– is the perfect way to enjoy time ‘with nature,’ while still feeling happy and full at the end of the day. This series of “Glamping” recipes will focus on cooking outdoors, with recipes as exciting and fulfilling as your camping trip.
Camping trips can leave you full of dilemmas– You’re starving, you’ve been hiking all day, and yet just as you want one of the biggest, most filling meals ever, you find yourself without electricity, refrigeration, or even an oven. What’s a hungry hiker to do?!?! I’ll tell you what you’re going to do– you’re going to eat!!! With a little planning and preparation– you can find yourself chowing down on lasagna. This recipe for Campfire Spinach Lasagna is vegetarian, simple to prepare, and delicious. It’s also a fantastic way to eat a few more carbs than normal, especially before or after a big hike. We devoured this tasty pasta dish the night before our hike into the Grand Canyon, and managed to eat the entire batch all by ourselves.
A Dutch Oven is more than a pot
Did you know that you can use a cast iron dutch oven as an actual oven?* I didn’t. Not until the husband started talking about how his mom used to bake bread on their camping trips, using the same dutch oven she passed on to me. I was amazed. To use your dutch oven as an oven, and not just a soup pan, set the pot on campfire coals with the lid upside down, and then pile some coals on top. As I was scouring the internet for campfire cooking ideas, I found this lasagna recipe from Fresh Off the Grid. Their recipe looked delicious, used the same campfire dutch oven trick, and was pretty similar to the vegetarian spinach lasagna recipe I already use at home. I knew, however, that I probably wouldn’t have much access to fresh ingredients while on my camping trip to the national parks.
If you have absolutely no access to refrigeration, or no way to buy cheese right before you cook, try this Glamping recipe for Chana Masala. If, however, you have access to a market near your campsite, swing by after hiking and buy some cheese. Everything else in this recipe is shelf-stable, and will be fine waiting on you in your car while you explore nature. I’ve also used no-boil noodles instead of standard noodles, because I didn’t want to deal with boiling noodles while camping. If you have access to fresh pasta (I didn’t), or want to pre-boil your noodles– go for it. The no-boil noodles worked very well for me in this recipe, however, and they’re easier. Just remember to add the extra liquid after putting the lasagna layers together.
Making Campfire Spinach Lasagna
To cook this Campfire Spinach Lasagna, start by getting a campfire ready using coals. Get them very hot. Using tongs, move a few coals aside (we used about 15). Prepare your lasagna in the dutch oven, place the lid on UPSIDE DOWN, and then move it over to the fire. Set the dutch oven on the main batch of coals, and then use tongs to set the reserved coals on top. Let your lasagna bake for about 25 minutes, and then carefully remove the lid. Let it cook uncovered a few more minutes, until the excess liquid has boiled down. Remove the lasagna from the heat, and let it cool down for a few minutes. Dig in, and enjoy your camping trip.
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Note: This isn’t the time to use your uber expensive, gorgeous, enameled cast iron dutch oven. No, no, no. This is the time to use the unenameled dutch oven– the work horse, not the show pony. If you don’t already have one– this is the one we use.
Campground Cooking Tips:
- Try to stay as organized as possible. I kept a box with my spices, oils, and kitchen equipment, and then separated produce, breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods into different reusable grocery bags. That way, I didn’t have to pull everything out at once.
- Clean up your dishes immediately. The faster you clean up, the easier it will be.
- Use available resources to add to your meal. For example, this KOA in Durango, CO had free fresh veggies and herbs available for campers, and Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon had an especially nice, camper-friendly market. We bought the cheese for this recipe at Mather Campground, and it was delicious.
Campfire Spinach Lasagna
- 1 package no-boil lasagna noodles
- 15 oz of full-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella (fresh preferred), divided
- 1 15oz can spinach, drained (reserve liquid)
- 1 28oz jar pasta sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- •~2 TB dried herbs (use Italian blend, or a mixture of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary).
- access to a campfire ring or campfire area
- 1 small bag campfire coals
- 1 cast iron dutch oven (not enameled)
- tongs (for moving coals)
- pot holders
- mixing bowl
- mixing spoon
- measuring cup
- knife (for cutting lasagna)
- can opener (if can isn't pop-top)
Preheat campfire coals until very hot. Once coals are hot, set aside around 15 coals aside for easy access (you'll be setting them on top of your dutch oven).
Mix ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, spinach, salt, and herb mixture together. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Spread 1/3 mixture in the bottom of cast iron dutch oven. Top with 1/3 pasta sauce. Add one layer of lasagna noodles-- break them as necessary to fit into the round pot. Repeat twice with remaining spinach cheese mixture, pasta sauce, and noodles (you may have some noodles left over). Pour reserved liquid from spinach can into a measuring cup, and add water until you have 3/4 cup of liquid total. Pour liquid into lasagna along the edge. Top mixture with remaining mozzarella cheese.
Place dutch oven lid on upside down. Set oven directly on the main batch of coals. Using tongs, set reserved coals on top of lid, and let it bake for about 25 minutes. Next, remove lid, and leave the dutch oven on the fire uncovered for about 5 more minutes. The excess liquid should be boiled off. If needed, let it cook a few more minutes until any extra liquid has thickened. Remove dutch oven from heat (if your campfire ring has a grate, you can pull the grate down and set the oven on that). Allow lasagna to cool slightly before serving.
Still hungry? Try these glamping meals: