Simple pasta sauces for camping

Pasta is a great camping standby. It’s easy to store when travelling and, especially when you get chance to buy fresh pasta, can be quick to cook.

So, what you need is a repertoire of easy sauces to make your diners forget it’s pasta…again!

Incidentally, grains like bulgur wheat, couscous, orzo and quinoa are even faster to cook than pasta and taste delicious with pasta-type sauces.

Spicy, fragrant tomato sauce

I know! Who’s carrying saffron and cinnamon in their camping kit (though see below!) If you happen to have them, great. If not, add some herbs. Delicious with a lemony-dressed salad. 

  • Chopped red chilli
  • Four anchovy fillets (add capers or salt instead if you’re veggie)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon and saffron
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Jar or carton of passata or a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Optional – prawns, mussels or smoked tofu.
  1. Put the chilli and anchovies (if using) into a frying pan with a good splash of oil (out of the anchovy tin or jar if you like). How much chilli depends on your taste and the strength of your chilli (use a pinch of dried if fresh isn’t available).
  2. Add the cinnamon and saffron (and fish or tofu if you’re using either).
  3. Squash the garlic and add that, fry for a minute or so and then add the passata and bring to the boil.
  4. Taste for seasoning and add a squirt of lemon juice if it needs a bit of a lift. Done!

Don’t forget your camping spice tin

Make yourself a neat camping box of herbs and spices and you’ll never have to rummage in your kitchen bag again.

 We all have our own essentials and favourites, so pick and mix to suit, but here’s what we always have:

  • Curry powder
  • Mixed herbs
  • Chilli powder
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Chinese five spice
  • Garam masala
  • Whole spices – cardamom, star anise, cloves
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried lime leaves
  • Sesame seeds

A masala dhaba is a great idea, providing it has airtight lids or a double outer lid.

Go for a neat set of magnetic tins. Or simple stackable boxes with transparent lids so you don;’t have to open every box to check what’s inside.

This lovely German set of spice and herb tins has good lids and all the labels you need to keep things organised.

If you’ve got a weigh-and-save or zero-waste shop near you, you can refill containers like these more cheaply and with less wasted packaging too.

Basil for pasta sauces

Deconstructed pesto

We’ve never met a camper yet who’s taken their food processor along for the trip – not even the Dutch couple with their slow cooker camping (check out our recent wonderbag review) next to the Loire. So, here’s a taste of fresh pesto without the grind.


Having said that, we LOVE our hand-operated food processor for houmous, pesto and more – small enough to pack and doesn’t need electricity!

Basil, pine-nuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan (or any strong cheese, even malted yeast – nooch – will be fine for the vegans), salt and pepper.

  1. Dry-fry your pine-nuts till they’re just going brown. Remove from the pan.
  2. Add three tablespoons of  oil and cook the finely chopped garlic. You want it fragrant but not at all brown.
  3. Put the pine-nuts, garlic and oil into a bowl with a handful of torn basil leaves. Add pepper, but be careful with the salt because you’ll be adding salty cheese.
  4. When your pasta’s ready, drain and stir in the nut mixture and cheese.
  5. There are lots of variations to try – walnut and lemon, hazelnut and rosemary…

olives for sale

Al crudo

A raw sauce. How quick is that!

  • One tablespoon capers
  • Two tablespoons pitted black olives
  • Three anchovy fillets finely chopped (leave out if you’re veggie)
  • A large, finely chopped tomato
  • Two tablespoons passata
  • Salt, pepper, basil
  1. Put everything in a pan with two to three tablespoons of oil, mix but don’t heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Put your pasta on to cook and put the pan with your sauce ingredients over the top like a lid.
  3. When the pasta’s cooked, drain (save the water) and pour in the sauce. Add a bit of the pasta water if it needs loosening up.
  4. Add another tablespoon of oil and sprinkle in some torn basil.

By the way, you can get passata in fairly small cartons rather than glass jars, which are much easier for carrying but not resealable. Zip the opened carton into a silicone bag for use the next day. 

Lemon and olive oil sauce

OK. This is the easiest yet and one of those recipes where it’s hard to believe so few ingredients can make something so delicious.

  • 75ml olive oil
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • 100g grated parmesan (or nooch and ground nuts/seeds for vegans)
  1. Whisk oil and lemon
  2. Add cheese or nuts/seeds
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.

All our recipes serve two, so just multiply if you’re feeding more. If these recipes aren’t fast enough for you, have a look at our tasty cheats instead!

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