I love the idea of creating recipes that are very gourmet, but still fulfill the requirements of easy camping recipes, with sturdy ingredients that are satisfying and quick. This recipe is a wonderful example of the dualistic idea of dirty gourmet, and was one of my first creations for the blog.
It was autumn, and I had recently planted my first fall garden. I planted vegetables that I had not used very often in order to inspire my creativity and motivation. One vegetable I was very excited about was butternut squash. I decided to work with it before the garden was ready, and the first recipe I tried at home was Alton Brown’s Butternut Dumplings with Brown Butter and Sage. It was complicated and took a long time, but yielded fantastic results. A boy was in charge of cooking the leftovers, and he squashed them (pun intended) into little cakes thinking that was the proper way to prepare them, but they were still great! So, we used that as a jumping-off point for the butternut squash recipe we’ve created here.
We took a quick overnight camping trip to the San Bernardino Mountains, only about an hour drive from the big city of L.A. The entire forest looked very Halloweenie, and made the idea of cooking with seasonal ingredients like butternut squash and apples sound very appetizing. We had intended to roast the squash, as Alton had in his dumpling recipe, but unfortunately, due to a bad fire season in the area, campfires were prohibited in the forest until some snow came along. We thought boiling the squash would be easier and faster than campfire roasting anyway, which turned out to be true. We brought along a bunch of ingredients that we thought would be a tasty combination with the butternut squash. After only a bit of tweaking, this butternut squash cakes masterpiece was born. Good thing that it was such a delicious gourmet appetizer, because we made a LOT for the three of us. We ended up eating so much, that we had to eat dessert for breakfast the next day.
This recipe was intended to be an appetizer, but it can also work as a breakfast pancake or as a dessert. It goes well with a simple drizzle of maple syrup or honey, or stacked up with crisp textures and fruity sweet flavors like we’re introducing here. Apples, pecans, and honey are all tough items that can be easily stuffed into a backpack. I admit that a butternut squash is a large item to be lugging around the forest, but the dough can easily be made ahead of time (or even just the puree) and carried in a smaller portioned bag.
Butternut Pecan Cakes with Honey Apples and Mascarpone
Yield6–8 servings (about 14 small cakes)
Prep Time / Cook Time/
Activity GuideCar Camping
- 1 small butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 1 egg (or 1 tablespoon ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons water)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 2-3 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 apple, sliced
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- honey, for drizzling
- Cutting board
- Large pot
- Chop the squash halves into large chunks, leaving the skin on. Place chunks in a large pot of boiling water until flesh is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Strain squash, and pour the pieces out onto a cutting board, letting cool just until you can handle it. Scrape the flesh from the chunks with a spoon back into the pot, discarding skin. Add the egg, salt and nutmeg, and 1/2 of the flour to the squash and mix just until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix. Continue adding flour if the dough is still too moist.
- Heat about 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet set to medium-high heat. Spoon about 1/4 cup mixture onto the skillet and cook, about 1 minute each side, until golden brown.
- Top with apple slices, chopped pecans, a dollop of mascarpone cheese, and a drizzle of honey.