Backpackers’ Ultimate Recipe

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What do you eat while you are backpacking or traveling on a budget? Or to be more specific, what would you cook during a trip when you have only some basic kitchenware? With my experience of living in hostels, Airbnb, Couchsurfing and camping, after trying different kinds of backpackers’ dishes, I can say finally I have one unbeatable backpackers’ recipe: Instant noodle! You know I’m joking… I’m talking about something tastier and healthier: Pasta Arrabbiata! Arrabbiata in Italian means “angry”, because the sauce is made from onion, garlic, red chilli peppers and tomatoes, which presents a hot look and gives you a spicy taste.

Arrabbiata is one of the classic tomato sauces for pasta or spaghetti that takes you only about twenty minutes to prepare. This recipe is not only for backpackers, but it’s also great for home cooking as a proper meal. You can use fresh tomatoes (process: warm-peel-chop-cook), but canned ones are really better in this case because of the ripe flavor, acidity, richness and much more. One more healthier suggestion: buy the peeled tomatoes in glass bottles rather than in cans, if you can.
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INGREDIENTS:
(serves 2)
Pasta 200g
1 medium sized chopped onion
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 peeled whole/diced tomato in glass bottle/can (about 300g)
Half chopped fresh red chilli pepper or dried chilli flakes
Fresh parsley or any other green herbs and cheese for garnish
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
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COOKING IT UP:
1. Cook water in a pot until it’s boiling, put pasta into the pot, add salt and olive oil, keep cooking on high heat, stir from time to time.
2. Fry the onion, chilli and garlic with olive oil in a pan on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes into the pan, season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes less juicy. Turn to low heat.
3. The pasta should be cooked for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain the water and mix the pasta with sauce in the pan on low heat.
4. Serve on two plates, sprinkle some parsley and cheese for garnish. Buon appetito!

Summer Pasta Salad

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Good summer starts with a good salad. This vegetable pasta salad is loaded with a variety of veggies and seasoned with homemade pesto. It’s so easy to make, all you need to do is boil a large pot of pasta, chop up the veggies and toss it together with the dressing.Just take whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. I boiled some asparagus, chopped a handful of cherry tomatoes, a few sun-dried tomatoes. You can use other veggies that you prefer such as zucchini, bell pepper, olives and so on. Then toss them with the pasta together with dressing. I made a quick batch of this yummy pesto (I wrote this pesto recipe in a previous issue: link). It’s so fresh, herbal, flavorful and rich. This classic pesto is made of basil, parsley, roasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, salt and olive oil. But again, my golden rule for making great pesto is: herbs/greens + nuts + cheese + olive oil = awesomeness. So, literally you can’t go wrong by following this. If you want it to be more simple, make your version of vinaigrette instead of pesto, by mixing an oil with something acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, balanced with salt, herbs or other spices. In the end, toss some roasted nuts, cheese and herbs to complete this wonderful salad. It can easily be served as a main dish instead of a side.
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INGREDIENTS
(serves 3)
300g dry pasta (I use fusilli)
A small bunch of asparagus, peeled and roughly chopped
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
A few sun dried tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
3 tbsp roasted peanuts
4 tbsp classic pesto (pesto recipe link) or other dressing
Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnishing

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METHODS
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. When the pasta is almost done, put the asparagus into the boiling water for 30 seconds too. Drain the pasta and asparagus, rinse under cold water until no longer hot. Set aside.
2. Add the pasta, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, together in a large container and mix with a generous amount of pesto. Toss until the pasta and veggies are evenly coated with the dressing.
3. Top with roasted peanuts, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and herbs. Feel free to add chopped avocado! This colorful and delicious pasta salad is ready to share, enjoy!