I’m officially on my leave of absence from work now, and I’ve spent the last three weeks camping and traveling through the Pacific Northwest with a friend. From San Francisco to Vancouver, we worked our way up the coast – staying in hotels and airbnbs occasionally, but camping as much as we could! First of all. Can I just reiterate how absolutely stunning the outdoors is there? The air was crisp and clean and refreshing, everything was lush and fertile and everywhere we went we found farm fresh produce and right-off-the- boat seafood.My previous experience with camping cuisine included hamburgers, hot dogs and s’mores – and i expected no more on this trip. So, I was giddy when my friend revealed the electric cooler, propane grill and gas stovetop he’d packed for us – we could cook pretty much anything we wanted. Our pantry was simple- olive oil, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper-but it’s really all ya need.This may have been the best kitchen I’ve cooked in!! Under the stars, in the great outdoors- and it travels. From the Redwoods to the San Juan islands- we’d stop at the local market and gather goodies for our next few days of meals. Inevitably cooking far more than two people can eat for dinner, we’d use the leftovers for breakfast the next day – mixing leftover salmon and veggies with eggs. Yum.One of my favorite creations was tarragon shrimp and mussels in tomato sauce, served over roasted baby potatoes. We made it with fresh seafood and ingredients we picked up our last morning in Seattle, at Pike Place Market (a very overwhelming experience on a crowded Sunday..). Kind of an experiment, but it came out great. We enjoyed the shrimp morethan the mussels, but it could’ve just been that our mussels weren’t great. One word of warning – be careful not to overlook the shellfish! So easy to do and an unfortunate mistake (we may have made it…)
TARRAGON SHRIMP & MUSSELS RECIPE serves 2
- 1/2 pound mussels
- 1/2 pound shrimp, with shells but deveined
- 1/2 pound baby potatoes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine (on the sweeter side)
- 5 fresh tomatoes
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- fresh tarragon
- Heat olive oil and butter over low heat.
- Add onion and garlic, cook until translucent -5 or so minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut baby potatoes in half and place in aluminum foil pouch. Add tarragon, olive oil, salt and pepper- then fold up the pouch and place on grill at around 400 degrees. You’ll remove 30 minutes later.
- Back to the sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and tarragon. Add some salt and pepper.
- Cover (I used aluminum foil) and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down and release their juices.
- While sauce is cooking, devein the shrimp and discard any mussels that have already opened or look bad
- Raise heat to medium and add red wine. Let the alcohol cook down – around 5 minutes.
- Add water to sauce if too thick, and additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Once sauce is fragrant, add mussels and cover again. These will take a couple minutes longer than the shrimp to cook.
- After 2-3 minutes, add shrimp to pan and cover once more.
- After 4-5 minutes, shrimp should be done and mussels should have opened. It may take longer depending on the heat of the stove. My only complaint of the camping stove is that it’s finicky!
- Remove from stovetop and plate over potatoes, which should be done by now. (Feel free to turn up the heat on those at the end to get them nice and crispy). Serve with salad.