My very first backpacking trip was nightmare city on the food front. My friend and I worried that we’d starve, so we packed in way too much, then spent the night suffering through every single morsel that wouldn’t fit into our bear canisters.
The upside is that before we realized our mistake, a third, wiser friend cooked up a delicious dinner of peanut buttery noodles tangled around an assortment of root vegetables: calorie bomb heaven. Over the years, it’s become my signature dish, part comfort food and part carbo-boost for when I need a little extra help in the Departments of Energy or Morale. Each bite is like a big, warm, peanut-buttery hug. Well, without the all the mess that would actually entail.
Sure, it’s probably more practical to plan this as a car camping meal, given the weight of fresh veggies and all, but I’ve happily hauled everything off-trail and up to a secluded ridgeline in Sequoia National Park, and it was worth every drip of sweat to munch away under the moonlight. You can make things slightly more portable by pre-chopping the veggies and preparing the sauce at home or go even lighter by dehydrating the veggies; plan to rehydrate them at camp an hour before cooking.
I adapted my recipe from what I remember of that very first trip (the good memories, at least). Each time I make these noodles, I experiment a little bit—add fresh cilantro, toss in some chopped broccoli, go hard with extra peanut butter and chili flakes. Point is, this is really just a jumping off point for your deepest noodle fantasies. Have at it.
- 8 oz rice noodles (dry weight)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cups diced potatoes (I use red, but any other kind will work)
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Green onions, thin slices for garnish
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- Sriracha (optional)
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp ginger
- 2 tsp coriander
- 3 tsp chili oil (or sesame oil)
- 1 tsp olive oil
Feel free to add any other veggies you like; broccoli works well in this dish. Also, I like stringy maifun noodles because they tend to sop up the sauce better than thick noodles; your mileage (and preference) may vary.
Start two pots of water boiling. Chop the carrots and potatoes while you wait; the smaller the pieces, the quicker they’ll cook. Once the water comes to a boil, toss the veggies in one, the noodles in another. The noodles will only take a few minutes to boil; strain them and reserve a quarter cup of water from the pan, then set both aside.
Dice the onion while the veggies are still boiling, then toss into a separate pot with the olive oil and sauté over low heat until translucent; incorporate the minced garlic and brown the mixture for a minute or two over low heat. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, coriander, and chili oil (or sesame oil) and stir until completely mixed. Slowly add the reserved noodle water and stir until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
Drain the boiled veggies, then incorporate the peanut sauce. Pour the veggie-sauce combo over the noodles and stir to mix. Garnish with green onions and sriracha. Smile as you stuff your belly with all the carbs.