Risotto is one of our favorite comfort meals. It’s rich, creamy, and adaptable to any season. While we can have it any time of the year, spring is when we crave it most. It’s still kind of chilly out, so we want something that’s going to be filling and hearty. But at the same time, we want it to be bright and cheerful too. And the thing that satisfies both for us is risotto!
While risotto can be quite versatile, unless you have lots of time and endless fuel to burn, it isn’t the most camp-friendly meal. That’s because, in order to achieve its creamy richness, you need to spend a lot of time stirring the risotto over low controlled heat - which slowly coaxes out the starch from the rice. The long cook time means burns through a lot of fuel, which not a luxury most campers can afford. So how to enjoy risotto on your next camping trip? The answer is dehydration.
By making the risotto at home and then dehydrating it, you can perform all the time consuming parts of the recipe from the comfort of your kitchen. Once your risotto is made, spread it out in a thin and even layer on your dehydrator sheets. This is also a great time to dehydrate some vegetables that you want to add to the risotto later.
After dehydrating for 6 hours at 135 F the risotto and accompanying vegetables with be completely dry and brittle. The starch that made the risotto so creamy will have dried out and the solids will encrust the outside of each grain of rice. Then just pack all of the dehydrated ingredients together, along with some parmesan cheese.
At the campsite, dump all of the ingredients into a pot, add 2 cups of water, and start to simmer and stir. The rice and vegetables will start to plump back up and all that starchy goodness will return. Rehydrating this meal at camp takes only a fraction of the time it would take to make it from scratch on site.
With a little prep work at home, you too can enjoy the rich creaminess of homemade risotto at camp in no time at all!
Risotto with Spring Vegetables
Makes 2 servings
1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups broth
1 small zucchini
¼ cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
Prepare the risotto
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Once shimmering, add the onion and salt and saute 6 minutes. Add the rice and saute 1-2 minutes, until the ends turn translucent. Add the wine and cook, stirring continuously, until it has evaporated. Add the broth and cook, stirring frequently and adding water a half cup at a time as needed when the bottom of the pan is dry, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the risotto cool for a bit in the pot.
While the risotto is cooling, cut the zucchini and mushrooms into ¼” slices.
Dehydrate: Places the zucchini, mushrooms, and peas onto your dehydrator trays, taking care to make sure the vegetables don’t overlap. Line an additional dehydrator tray or two (depending on the size) with a solid tray liner or piece of parchment paper. Spread the risotto onto the tray in an even layer.
Dehydrate 4-8 hours at 135F, until the vegetables and risotto are totally dry. (You may want to check the risotto half way and flip it to ensure even drying.) Store in a sealed, airtight container until ready to cook at camp.
In camp: Place the dehydrated risotto and veggies in a cookpot along with 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Add enough water to just cover - about 2 cups. Optional: Let the food soak for a bit to reduce cooking time & fuel consumption. Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring frequently, until the risotto and vegetables are tender, adding more water if needed. Enjoy!