I’ve been camping my whole life, but backpacking is somewhat new to me. A couple of years ago, for my birthday, a group of us planned a three day backpacking trip in the Silver Peak Wilderness near Big Sur, CA. I was, of course, excited about planning what to eat. I wanted to eat real food, but at the same time, I was worried about weight. I knew it would be a tough hike and I didn’t want to load my pack full of heavy ingredients. So, I played it safe and went for the typical backpacking fare without resorting to dehydrated backpacking meals. I ate oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and boxed mac & cheese and ramen for dinner.
On day 2, I was pretty happy with my pb&j until I looked over to see Mai-yan and her fiance with a jar of roasted red pepper dip and bagels. Lucky for me, they were nice enough to share. That roasted red pepper dip tasted so great. It was savory, unlike all the foods I had brought along for snacks and lunch, such as trail mix with dried fruit, candy, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I’ve since tried the same brand of jarred roasted red pepper dip at home and it’s not bad, but it’s not as great as I remembered it either. Everything tastes better when you’re out on the trails.
Here’s an easy camping recipe that’s inspired by the dip Mai-yan brought on that backpacking trip. You can make it at home or out in the backcountry since you don’t need a food processor—the ingredients are all chopped by hand. It’s packed with walnuts, so it’s high in protein and will give you enough fuel to keep going for a while. Eat it with crackers, or spread on a bagel or tortilla.
Chunky Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Yieldabout 2 1/2 cups
Prep Time / Cook Time/
Activity GuideBackpacking, Bike Touring, Car Camping, Day Trip, Picnic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers in water, chopped OR 2 red bell peppers, roasted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Stove with simmer control
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add minced shallot and saute until it begins to brown. Add chopped walnuts and saute until they just begin to brown and smell toasty. Add garlic, cumin and paprika and saute another minute or two, or until the spices are fragrant.
- Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and roasted red peppers to the skillet. Season to taste with salt and pepper.