Welcome September! I like this month; maybe because it holds my birthday, but I also love the beautiful fall colors it holds, and the excitement of the transitions it brings.
Yesterday I walked back into Kennicott after another guided backcountry trip. I spent four great days with Sharon & Seth, from New York, and Joe, who came along as a ‘sherpa’ to help carry gear. The first two days of our trip were full of perfect sunshine; the third day brought some soaking rain, but intermittent sunshine on the fourth day dried us out again. Altogether, it was great.
We spent our trip on Donoho Basin, which is a great backpacking area accessible with a walk out from town here, and then crossing the Root Glacier. Donoho Basin has a couple gorgeous lakes on it, with big views of surrounding mountains on clear days (like we were lucky enough to have!). Also, at this time of year – which is high fall in this part of Alaska! – the colors on Donoho are astounding.
Almost all of the food I cooked for this trip was vegan (the exception being the cheese on these burritos – but that could easily be left out, as it was for Joe!), since my clients were both vegetarians and Joe is allergic to dairy. I already had two great vegan dinner standbys, but I needed to come up with a third meal plan. Since most of my backcountry dinners seem to tend towards an Asian theme, I thought I’d go in a different direction for this one. Everyone was pleased with the results!
I decided lentils and rice would be a good start, and from there, after some brain-storming, decided on burritos. Luckily, Kennicott Wilderness Guides had some fresh bell peppers in our stock of backcountry food, and I was thrilled to be able to put a couple of them to good use. There isn’t much that compares to having some fresh veggies while you’re out in the backcountry! This meal takes a little bit of extra effort, and is definitely a meal for the first night of your trip (with the prepared veggies & all the fuel it takes to cook the lentils & rice), but is worth it.
1 1/2 cups white rice (I rarely cook with white rice, but brown just takes too long to cook over a campstove!)
1/12 cup brown lentils
1 can tomato paste (I don’t remember the size, but it was one of those small cans….I think 8 ounces??? If I were on top of things I’d go find out, but…..)
2 Bell peppers, I used red & yellow
1 medium onion
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1 Tbsp oregano
2 tsp salt
shredded cheese, optional
hot sauce, optional
Combine rice & lentils in a ziploc bag.
Open the can of tomato paste & put it in a ziploc bag; it’s a lil’ messy, but better than hauling around that heavy can!
Slice the onions & peppers, & put in another ziploc bag.
Combine all of the seasonings in yet another ziploc bag.
When ready to cook:
Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil; I didn’t measure, just estimated what it would take to cook the rice & lentils – you can add more water if needed. Add the rice & lentils, cover, return to boil, and reduce heat. Cook until both are tender (thankfully they take about the same amount of time to cook!). When done, add the tomato paste, and maybe a little more water to make it easier to mix everything, and then stir in the spices. Stir until everything is well combined & heated through – it will be a bit thick. Remove from the heat, but keep covered.
In another pan, heat some olive oil, then add the peppers & onions. Saute just until tender; don’t overcook. To serve, spoon some of the rice & lentil mixture onto a tortilla, then top with cheese (if you’re not vegan or allergic to dairy!), the veggies, and hot sauce, if desired.