Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Family Camping, Menu Planning & Cooking
Our “Berry Favorite” Camp Stew
For traveling, I try to find recipes that are quick and easy to make because though I enjoy cooking when home, I prefer to be doing other things when I am camping, usually hiking or exploring our surroundings. A dish that my family enjoys that can be prepared in one pot is an added bonus. I am not sure where I discovered this recipe, but it quickly became a family favorite and is usually the meal I make our first night out on a trip.
In the past, there were two reasons for making this meal first. We usually tried to get the greatest number of miles behind us on the first day so it was generally later in the day than usual when we were finally set up and eating dinner (hence the “quick to make” aspect). Also, during our days of tent camping, the Italian sausage would only stay frozen one day in the cooler so we wanted to use it up for one of our first meals. It has become a tradition we all look forward to, however, to eat this meal on our first night on the road.
The original recipe called for a 1 lb bag of dried great northern beans, rinsed and soaked overnight, then simmered for 1.5 hours with a halved onion, sage, salt and a bay leaf. Two and a half cups of the liquid is reserved after the beans are soft and added back into the stew with the remaining ingredients. When preparing this meal at home, I use this method. However, wanting to save time when camping, I adapted the recipe and shortened the prep time as follows:
- ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled (2-3 sausages)
- 4-5 small carrots, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 Tbsps fresh chopped parsley (2 tsps dried)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped, undrained
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped sage (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cans great northern beans, undrained
Heat sausage in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir until lightly browned, about 7-11 minutes. Add onions, carrots, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, remaining spices, beans with liquid and water as needed, then cook for 25-30 minutes. While stew is cooking, you should have time to play a game with the family members that have gathered nearby due to the delicious aromas wafting by.
When stew is done, serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread for a hearty meal. In addition to being a treat for the taste buds, it is beautiful to look at due to the various colors of the vegetables and spices. In fact, I am often able to sneak in a few extra vegetables which my kids are otherwise reluctant to eat. I know they’ll be consumed in this dish! Leftovers are rare, but this meal is often even better the second day when the flavors have mingled a bit more.
When packing for the trip, I always try to remember to grab fresh parsley and sage from my herb garden to enhance the flavors of the meat and vegetables. It feels like bringing a little bit of home cooking on the road! For a complete selection of camping cookbooks, browse Woodall’s online bookstore at http://woodalls.com/online-store. Bon appetit!