Roasted red pepper-garlic-goat cheese pasta sauce

NOTE:  I have changed this recipe so that it is a sauce that can be dehydrated and then served over any kind of pasta or even just scooped up with a piece of Naan.  You can still use rotini, but start it rehydrating a good 15 minutes before you start rehydrating the sauce, as it takes a little while to soften up.  Ramen noodles are a much faster substitute.

Here’s a recipe that is humming in the dehydrator and has made my kitchen smell so heavenly this morning!  It’s a real winner as a backpack dinner and reasonable calorie density (about 3.3 cals/gram, 570 calories for a 3C serving if you are a big eater.)  The recipe makes about 8C total.

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Sauce with Goat Cheese Pasta Sauce

  • 2C roasted red peppers and whole garlic cloves in olive oil.  Purchase at the deli counter or make your own.
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 pint half and half
  • 1T crumbled goats cheese (about 1 oz)
  • 2t good coarse sea salt
  • Spices to taste.  This would be good with 1t of a zesty spice mix (including crushed red pepper and black pepper) or even a finely chopped red jalapeno.  Or you could use fresh thyme and rosemary, or chopped fresh basil.  Experiment!

To prep this recipe in your home kitchen:

Slice the onion and put into a dutch oven or large saucepan with the red peppers and whole garlic cloves.  If there isn’t about 2T of oil that comes along with the peppers and garlic, add a little more olive oil.   Let these cook together over medium heat until the onion begins to get soft, about 15 mins, stirring periodically.  Pour in the half and half and bring barely to a boil.  Simmer for another 15-20 minutes.  Add the sea salt and goats cheese, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit on the stove for about a half hour for the flavors to combine.  Then put the mixture into a blender or food rocessor and puree until the pieces are small and fairly uniform.

Spread the pureed pepper-garlic-goat cheese mixture onto separate dehydrator trays (~1C of each per serving).  I use the solid plastic fruit leather trays for the cheese mixture, at least the first several hours, because it’s a bit runny.  You can transfer to the mesh trays halfway through for faster drying if you have time.  (You can also pre-cook and dehydrate whatever pasta you want to use with the sauce;   I dehydrate and store them separately.)

On the dehydrator tray ready for drying. Approx 4C on the tray.

Spread the mixture on the tray, in a uniform layer no more than 1/2 inch thick.  Run the dehydrator overnight and check the mixture for completeness of drying in the morning.  If the mixture doesn’t crumble into dry pieces but feels slightly wet, break it up and re-spread it onto the mesh trays before you go to work.  It will be ready for packaging when you get home.  To package, pulse the dry mixture in the food processor to break up the chunks, and then measure out the dried servings into individual zip-loc bags based on your pre-drying measurements (how many servings went onto each tray).  Make a little tag to go in the bag with what the food is, how many servings, and how much water to add back to each serving.

At camp, bring about 2C of water to a near-boil  and pour it into your dehydrated pasta or ramen noodles, or bring the dehydrated pasta to a boil in your pot and allow  it to bubble for 3-5 minutes.  Then transfer the cooked pasta and just enough of the cooking water  to the sauce to cover.  Wrap in a cozy or aluminum foil to keep it hot (that will speed the rehydration), and wait about 5 minutes minutes.  If it’s still a little crunchy, wait a bit longer.  If it’s a bit too dry, you can add a bit more hot water.  Then enjoy, right out of the bag, mug or pot!  The recipe will provide 3-4 3C servings.

Enjoy!!

Calorie Planning Stats:

Food Serving (gms) Serving (lbs) Calories Carbs (gms) Fiber (gms) Fat (gms) Protein (gms) Cals/Gm % Nutritive   Weight* % Carbs % Fats % Protein
Roasted   red peppers and garlic in olive oil – 1C 68 0.1 57 10 2 2 2 0.8 17% 66% 17% 17%
Half and half   (8oz) 48 0.1 309 10 0 27 6 6.4 90% 22% 63% 15%
Rotini pasta   (1C uncooked) 56 0.1 202 41 2 2 7 3.6 86% 81% 4% 15%
Combined meal   (3C) 172 0.4 568 60 4 31 15 3.3 60% 55% 30% 15%

20 comments on “Roasted red pepper-garlic-goat cheese pasta sauce

  1. We made this and have the following observations: 1) Really do need to specify how much water to add – the description “to cover the food” led us to add too much water, so had to cook longer to evaporate the extra water. 2) we found this recipe a little on the bland side, probably need to add some savory herbs and probably garlic. Otherwise, it dehydrated just fine, and kept for a solid 5 months.

    • Hi Larry. The ‘cover the food’ instruction was for the rehydration step only, not for the initial cooking. You shouldn’t be cooking the food at all during rehydration – if it looks like you have a bit too much water during rehydration and the food hasn’t begun to absorb most of it within 10-15 minutes, just drain off the extra. This inevitably requires a bit of experimentation, but it would probably would be equivalent to using a quantity of boiling water equal to the volume of the dried food serving. I usually err on the side of just barely covering the food and then watching closely during rehydration to see if it needs more. As to spices, I added some commment on this to the recipe; my version was very strong-flavored, in part due to the roasted peppers and garlic which had quite strong flavor. But you can certainly experiment with perhaps a little chopped jalapeno, a zesty spice mix, or some chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and/or basil to taste. It may be that the recipe became more bland because it was watery – that has happened to me before. Anyway, thanks for the comments and I’ve amended the recipe.

  2. Sorry, in an attempt to be brief, I wasn’t clear. It was the rehydration water amount. We clearly added too much, so had to turn on the stove to drive off the excess. I thought about draining off the extra, but thought we would lose some of the “sauce” in the process.

    We really are interested in gathering recipes for dehydrated meals, more for long term food storage as opposed to backpacking, so I hope you continue to post recipes that have worked for you.

    Great to see that retirement is working out well for you.

    • I was guessing that’s what you meant. I am also guessing that the extra water is also what made it bland. I always err on the side of less water, so that the food is just barely showing above the surface of the water (and the dried food portion needs to be pretty closely packed into whatever container you’re rehydrating in, or else that method will give you too much water). The method of using the same volume of water as volume of dry food should result in a similar quantity of water. Then you can add more hot water during the rehydration period if the food is soaking it up fast and still a bit too chewy.

      See the risotto and mole recipes I’ve also got posted above. Those along with a good veggie-packed marinara sauce are some of the best dehydrated meals I’ve ever eaten. The closer to a powder that you can get the dried food, the faster and more uniformly it will rehydrate.

  3. Hi! Lovin the looks of this, gonna try it tomorrow. I am new to dehydrating- how long is this gonna stay good for? SOBO PCT this season

    • Hi Leyla! If you get it truly dry (crispy-crumbly to the touch) and package it so that no moisture gets in, it should be storable in a cool place for a few months easy. Enjoy!

  4. Hello! Looking forward to bringing this recipe to Colorado for a car camping and climbing trip. Could you tell me what temperature I should set dehydrate this recipe? I will be using the dehydrate option on our oven range. Thanks. Tim P.

    • Hi Tim! This recipe would be best dehydrated at around 145 degrees, no higher than 160. Ovens are a bit problematic for dehydrating because they generally don’t have settings low enough, and going too hot will cause the outside to case-harden and prevent the inside from drying. But if you can get close to this and leave the door cracked you could get close (check with a meat thermometer). I will also note that the rotini can take a little extra time to rehydrate at camp, so you might find it worthwhile to keep the cooked pasta separate from the cooked sauce when you dehydrate it so that you can boil the pasta for 3-5 minutes at camp, then drain it and throw it in with the sauce and just enough of the boiling water to cover the serving.

      Enjoy! Let me know how it comes out!

  5. Thanks! I will try that. Thankfully I have a nice range which includes a dehydrate setting. I will let you know how it comes out.

  6. any idea of the shelf life for sauces with cheese like this? I’m trying to decide if I can do something similar for my Pacific Crest Trail resupply boxes? Cheers!

    • Hi Robin! As long as you get the sauce well dehydrated (to the stage where it is crispy-crumbly), you should be able to successfully keep it for over a year in a cool dry place. Measure out individual servings so that you don’t have to keep re-opening the zip-loc. If you want a smoother sauce that is quicker to rehydrate, run it one last time through the food processor before you bag it up for storage so that the sauce component is essentially a powder. Angel hair pasta or ramen are the quickest noodles to put it on at camp (just add hot water, no need to pre-cook). Hope this helps!

    • Hi Kate! Thanks for pointing out that I had not put the number of servings on the recipe!! It should provide around 12C of sauce. Depending on the size of serving that you will eat and the volume of noodles or rice that you put it on, that could be anywhere from 4-8 individual portions.

  7. Thank you for this awesome recipe! We make a very similar recipe for home use and I never thought of translating it to backpacking. A few websites frightened me away from dehydrating milk/cheese recipes but this is great. It’s one of our favorite meals on the trail. We added some dehydrated zucchini and kale to the pot as it rehydrated and it makes for an amazing meal. Thanks!

    • So glad that you like it! I have also started to add shredded chicken or popcorn shrimp to the recipe which goes very well. Check out the Argentine Lentil Stew recipe also – it is a favorite for us and for many of our backpacking buddies!

  8. Hi, I was just reading through your recipes and came across this delicious sounding sauce. This may be a very daft question but what is half and half?
    Cheers, Nikki

    • Hi Nikki! Half and half is a product that you can purchase at any grocery store here in the U.S., in the milk and cream section – it’s a 50:50 mixture of cream and milk. Perhaps called something different in other places. You could certainly create the same thing by purchasing cream and milk and mixing it 50:50 yourself.

  9. Sauce is good, a bit bland, so use the chili flakes that are recommended. Very thick to puree with hand blender, I used the “real” blender instead.

    A question — i am having trouble with getting this past the “fruit leather” stage to crispy crumbly dry. Has been drying at 135F for 30 hours now… I did not put it to 1/2 inch thick, either, more like a 1/4 inch. (using an oven with dehydrator mode) What shelf life would it have now? I want it to last 2 weeks….

    • Hi Kristen! If you break it up and feel no moisture in the product then you’re probably just fine. Or if, after you break it up, you still feel moisture, then you can put the pieces back in to dehydrate more – but after 30 hours I doubt that much will change. Store it in a sealed zip loc bag in the freezer or other cool place and it will certainly last over 2 weeks.

      I typically do dry foods with meat or dairy at 165, purely vegetarian dishes at 145. In 4-6 hours after it begins to firm up I often flip it over, then a few hours later I break it up to speed the drying. You can even pulse it in a food processor to get the pieces smaller.

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