Backpacking Meal: Red Lentil Marinara Recipe

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Red lentil marinara sauce and pasta noodles in pan

This vegetarian red lentil marinara sauce is a great way to bump up your protein while enjoying a big comforting bowl of pasta.

Although overall calorie count is important while backpacking, we also want to make sure we're getting those calories from the right places too. After a long, tiring day out on the trail, we know it's important to get some protein into our system. So, we came up with a way to introduce some more protein into one of our favorite comfort foods: pasta with red lentil sauce.

At home, prepare the sauce on the stovetop first before transferring it onto a dehydrator sheets. This is one of those meals that can't be over dehydrated, so we like to run the dehydrator overnight at 135°F for about 8 to12 hours. The next day, pack the completely dried sauce flakes and few pasta nests into a resealable bag.

Dehydrated red lentil marinara pasta ingredients and reusable bag

At camp, add all of the ingredients into a pot, nearly cover with water and add a few tablesoons of oilve oil. As the water boils, the sauce will start to rehydrate and the pasta will begin to cook. The mixture will probably look a little soupy at first, but between the rehydration and evaporation, the water will get fully absorbed pretty quickly. Once your sauce has reached your preferred level of sauciness, cut the heat and top with parmesan.

If you're looking to up your protein consumption on your next backcountry adventure, give this red lentil marinara a try.

Backpacking Red Lentil Marinara

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe type: Vegetarian


  • 1 1/2 cups broth
  • 1 can tomatoes and juices
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried pasta
  • 4 packets parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4.5-ounce dried sauce w/o pasta, olive oil or cheese


Preparation at home

Step 1

Place the broth, tomatoes and their juices, lentils, garlic and dried oregano in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium-low until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste.

Step 2

Spread the sauce onto dehydrator trays in thin, even layers along with the basil. Dehydrate at 135°F for 8 to 12 hours until completely dry. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Step 3

To pack for the trail, pack about 1/2 cup pasta per serving of sauce (depending on how big of a meal you'd like). Separately, pack parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil per serving.

Preparation at camp

Place the sauce, pasta and oil in a pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the pasta and lentils are tender, about 12 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.