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Backpacking Recipes: Alpine Spaghetti (Modified)

Alpine Spaghetti

Alpine Spaghetti is a simple pasta dish that’s easy to make and quite filling. However, I’ve had to make some changes to the original recipe published in Simple Foods for the Pack to make it work for a single person as a simple one-pot meal.

When making pasta dishes on backpacking trips, the use of dried spices can be ineffective because they don’t have enough time to rehydrate and contribute their flavors to a dish.  On top of that, it can be difficult to mix in all of a recipe’s ingredients if you’re using a very small or narrow pot without a lot of extra space. For this recipe, I recommend you use a cookpot with a minimum of 1 liter of capacity.

Alpine Spaghetti Ingredients - Pasta, Olive Oil, Spices, Parmaesan Cheese
Alpine Spaghetti Ingredients – Pasta, Olive Oil, Spices, Parmesan Cheese


serves 1

  • 4 ounces angel hair spaghetti, broken in half to fit into a small cook pot
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, adjusted for taste
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (I suggest you omit this – it doesn’t add much flavor)
  • 1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes (leave this in for visual effect)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of garlic granules

At Home: 

Package pasta in a Ziploc bag. Carry olive oil in a small screw-top plastic bottle. Combine remaining ingredients into a Ziploc snack bag.

In Camp: 

Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the angel hair pasta and let boil 4-6 minutes until done. Drain about 90% of the water in the pot, but keep the remainder in the pot to help form a sauce with the remaining ingredients. Add at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss with spaghetti. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss again until thoroughly mixed.

Rating: This meal is a winner.

Recipe Source

This backpacking recipe comes from the backpacking cookbook, Simple Foods for the Pack.

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  1. This is close to several spigetti dishes I make.

    1/3 lb Spighetti, 2-3tbs Olive Oil, 1tsp dried garlic, 1tsp red peper flakes, 1tsp salt.
    In your cup, combine oil, garlic, red pepper, salt with 1-2tbs of water. Heat till the water evaporates, continue frying till the garlic is dark brown. Cook spighetti and drain. Dump the
    sauce over the spigetti and stir. Eat. Fairly hot, but frying the red pepper will burn the oil out of it, making it not-as-hot as you would expect, if heated correctly. It breaks down a bit quicker than the olive oil.

    You can add cheese, (any kind,) meat bits (jerkey, salami, pepperoni, fish, etc,) nuts (cashews and peanuts work well,) basil, thyme, other spices.

    Cooking is better, generally speaking, than dehydrated meals for calories, They usually lack fat content since dehydrated foods can go rancid. A vitamin pill per day will stave off scurvy and other nutritional disorders for a couple weeks.

  2. Put the herbs (and a pinch of red pepper flakes, for a kick) in with your olive oil before you leave home. The flavors will permeate the oil and save you from bland spaghetti.

  3. The herbs may not have added much, but visually it looks a lot better with them and that makes a big difference. To get round the dried herb problem, either:

    – Use oil with herbs in it. You’re already carrying a liquid, so it makes sense to combine items.

    – Use a herb equivalent that quickly rehydrates – e.g. garlic powder. Dried Dill is very thin, so it hydrates faster than other herbs and integrates well into a sauce. No crunchy bits!

    p- Redydrate them separately in a tiny amount of water while the rest boils.

    – Add to the pasta while it boils. Add extra so that some remains when the pasta is drained. I suppose if you were into carrying extra equipment you could put them in a tea ball or muslin bag so that they don’t drain away.

    Personally I carry 5 spice powder mixed with garlic/onion powder and celery salt or japanese furikake seasoning which are good sprinkled on after cooking.

  4. This is a good one, thx Phillip.

    Add precooked bacon to Marco’s suggested additions … hmmm bacon:-)

    Also, consider ghee (clarified butter) instead of olive oil for variety.

    Also, I like the idea of carrying herbs in the oil, thx!

  5. Your exploration of recipes in the Simple Foods for the Pack book brings back a lot of great memories for me of a 400 mile hike the length of Colorado my wife and I took in the early 80s, before we went to grad school. We ate a lot of Alpine Spaghetti, which was one of our favorites. The other favorite dish was Vulgar Bulgar. I don’t know if we named it that, or it was named that in the book. It looked awful, but it tasted wonderful. Part of that, of course, could have been hunger induced by the 60-80 pound packs we were carrying in those long-ago days. :-)

    • I just went out to the garage and found our old copy of Simple Foods for the Pack, bookmarks still intact. One, of course, on the Alpine Spaghetti page. Vulgar Bulgar turns out to be called Mushroom Bulgar in the book. A shame, really.

      Another great recipe, still marked here, is the Fruitcake. A loaf of that bread must have weighted five pounds by itself, but it was probably the single most important item in our packs. The thought of a big, thick slice of it for our mid-morning snack got us through a lot of heavy weather and steep trails that summer. Most delicious bread I ever tasted.

      • I found some quick cook bulgur at Trader Joes recently. And while the Simple Foods recipes for bulgur look ok – mainly mushrooms – I’m working on one that features dried chopped apricots, currants and possible pecan pieces.

        I haven’t started working on the cakes yet, but I was going to start with steamed brown bread made in coffee cans…also called hobo bread. I love it – heavy as hell – but packed with good calories and tasty.

        Glad you are enjoying my “exploration.” I’m packing up for a long trip soon and plan to take most of these meals with me. More on that in about a week.

  6. Since I only do FBC style, I use ramen noodles instead as well as just basic Italian seasoning. Turns out great!

  7. If the dried basil doesn’t have much flavor, you need fresher dried basil–it’s usually fairly pungent. The other trick would be to use a couple of tablespoons of packaged pesto powder–Simply Organic has a good one that can be found in the grocery aisle near the gravy and taco seasoning packets.

  8. For added veggies in meals, I dehydrate a pound of cut green beans that is usually found quite cheaply in the frozen foods section. When dehydrated, that pound will only be an ounce or two. They rehydrate very quickly. I toss them in with Ramen, etc.

    I’ve also dehydrated Edamame (soybeans) and add them for more protein.

  9. Similar recipe: 6ozs pasta & 1 oz of dried mushroom bring to boil, add some mushroom soup powder, stick in the cosy for 15 mins, add tablespoon of Pesto & Parmesan. Simple & tasty!

    Variations add precooked bacon bits or Chorizo.

  10. For spaghetti on the trail I use home dehydrated sauce (tomato based with meat), and “birds nest” pasta (angel hair pasta spooled into small nests) for ease of transport and cooking.

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