It may sound appealing to abandon the rat race and set forth across the nation in a remodeled van, but how can one prepare meals without a functional kitchen?
As a result, chef Danny Jack and his wife Hailee Kukura wrote the pocket-sized manual known as the Van Life Cookbook. They purchased a van in 2018 in search of meaningful ways to pass the time between hectic professions. Two years later, after completing renovations, they embarked on an adventure that has taken them across the country and into the United States.
This cookbook features over eighty campervan-friendly recipes that cater to cozy breakfasts, quick-fix meals, and fireside feasts. It serves as a commemoration of the unforeseen possibilities that can arise from limited space and financial resources.
Here are 3 easy camping recipes to try on your upcoming vacation:
Since the day Hailee prepared Huevos rancheros (or ranch-style eggs, as they are referred to in the Southwestern United States and Mexico), it has been one of my favorite meals of the year. We all adhere to this method while traveling, substituting scrambled eggs for fried ones. In lieu of pico de gallo (recipe provided), store-bought salsa will suffice in this instance. Nevertheless, be certain to include the hot condiment.
200g/7oz raw rice (any type)
For the beans:
½ red onion, diced
Four garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ small bunch of coriander, stalks finely diced, leaves saved for garnish
One tomato, chopped
2 tbsp.. ground cumin
2 x 400g/14oz tins black beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the rest:
Four large corn tortillas (1 per person)
A knob of butter
Eight eggs whisked together with a fork and a little salt
200g/7oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
Pico de gallo (recipe below) or shop-bought salsa to taste
One lime, cut into quarters
Tabasco sauce or similar hot sauce, to taste
Four dollops of soured cream or Greek-style yogurt (optional)
Making the rice is the initial phase (a recipe is included on page 12 of our book). Once prepared, retain the food in a warm pan. While the rice is simmering, prepare the beans in a separate saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil with a sprinkle of salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chopped tomato and coriander fronds. Continue stirring for an additional minute before adding the cumin and a dash of water. Continue cooking for another minute.
After adding the black beans, cover them with approximately one can of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened. To conclude, lightly mash the beans with a utensil and season with pepper and salt to taste. Even further reduced if they are excessively watery.
Construct the remaining components while the rice and beans continue to cook and rest, respectively.
Preheat a large, dry, nonstick skillet over high heat. Individual tortillas should be cooked over high heat for approximately 30 seconds per side, with one turn required. To maintain temperature, transfer to a plate and cover with a clean tea cloth. Proceed until all of them are cooked.
In the final step, prepare scrambled eggs. Place the eggs and a dollop of butter in a tortilla pan. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally with a spatula, over low heat until the egg forms substantial pleats but retains a slight runniness. Attenuate the heat and remove it from the heat to ensure comfort.
Presently, come together. After spreading each tortilla out on a plate, garnish it with rice, beans, and scrambled eggs. After dispersing the salsa over the grated cheese, sprinkle it on top. Add a wedge of lime, some coriander fronds, and hot sauce to each serving as a garnish. Serve with a sprinkling of yogurt or soured cream.
Pico de gallo
Three ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
½ red or white onion, finely diced
One garlic clove, minced to a paste with a little salt
One fresh chili (any variety), finely chopped
A few coriander sprigs, finely chopped (optional)
A pinch of salt
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. olive oil
Construct the pico de gallo. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, chili, and coriander (if using), along with a sprinkle of salt. Stir in the lime zest juice and olive oil. Aside; set aside.
Date night tagliatelle
Our household has developed a strong preference for this cuisine. The combination of smoked salmon, cream, and dill is timeless. Complement it with a glass of chilled white wine and an abundance of crushed black pepper. Smoked trout is available at a variety of fishmongers, delis, and farm stores; however, smoked salmon or mackerel may also be substituted.
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus an extra splash
Two garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ banana shallot or small onion, thinly sliced
250g/9oz dried tagliatelle, spaghetti or fettuccine
50 ml/2 fl oz white wine (optional)
300 ml/10 fl oz. of double cream (dairy or plant-based)
½ a small bunch of dill, stalks finely chopped and leaves chopped
300g/10½ oz skinless hot or cold smoked trout or salmon fillets, flaked
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast to finish (optional)
For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a simmer with two teaspoons of salt.
To replicate the appearance of pasta, slice or peel the courgette in half along its width. If accessible, utilize a vegetable peeler or a mandoline to achieve thin strips that resemble pasta. Aside; set aside.
Now, remove a second pot and place it over medium heat. Sauté the shallot or onion in olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt for one minute before adding the shallot or salt and cooking gradually for five minutes to prevent it from coloring. A dash of water should be added to the pan if the substance begins to color.
In the interim, combine the pasta and the olive oil and splash into the saucepan of salted boiling water. Prepare the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package.
While the pasta continues to simmer, return the onion and garlic to medium heat and, if desired, add the white wine. If not, reduce the liquid by half before adding the cream. Add the cream and bring to a boil. While the cooked pasta is drained, reserve one cup of the pasta water.
Presently, combine the flaked fish, dill (stalks and leaves), and courgette with the cream sauce in the larger saucepan. Re-boil while stirring with utensils, then modify the consistency by adding the pasta water that was set aside.
Add salt and a generous pinch of pepper as seasonings.
If desired, divide the pasta between two dishes and garnish with Parmesan or nutritional yeast.
Isle of Wight fish stew
One of our all-time favorite dishes for the van, this dish has been simplified to fit in a single pot for a tiny kitchen. When we were unable to locate anything open on the Isle of Wight other than a convenience store and a fishmonger, we decided to prepare this on a camp stove for one year.
Since then, it has been known as the Isle of Wight stew. Jamie Ross, the head chef who currently runs a seafood truck in Inverness, gave me the original recipe while I was working at The Dogs in Edinburgh. Make an effort to locate him if you find yourself in that vicinity.
For the stew:
A glug of olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
One onion, cut into large dice
Two garlic cloves, crushed
One leek, washed and chopped into chunks
Two carrots, washed and chopped into chunks
Two celery sticks, chopped into chunks
1 tsp. tomato purée
50 ml/2 fl oz white wine
2 x 400g/14oz cans tomatoes
Two bay leaves
400g/14oz mixed skinless white fish fillets (ideally from a small day boat or choose the most sustainable options available), such as hake and monkfish, cut into even dice
500g/1lb/2oz fresh mussels in the shell, de-bearded and rinsed well under cold water (discard any that don’t close when tapped sharply)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To finish and serve:
A small handful of chopped soft herbs, such as parsley, dill, chervil, coriander, and chives
Soft white bread or baguette and butter (optional)
Combine the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, leek, and a generous pinch of salt with a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring intermittently, for twenty minutes or until the carrots can be softly pressed with a spoon.
Stir in the tomato purée and continue cooking for an additional minute. White wine is added and reduced by half. The tomatoes, bay leaves, and 200 ml (7 fl oz) of water should then be added. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 20 minutes while covered with a lid or plate.
Liberally season the diced fish with pepper and salt. Cook the fish, covered, for an additional five minutes before adding the mussels and covering the vessel once more. After shaking the pan vigorously from side to side, simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Carefully stir in the mussels and ensure that they have all opened. Continue cooking for a short while, if necessary. Upon turning off the heat, dispose of any mussels that are still closed. Eliminate the bay leaves with fish.