Instant Pasta On-the-Go for Quick Meals
Pasta is a great base for healthy, nutritious and satisfying backpacking or on-the-go meals. It provides our body with glucose—the “fuel”, to power muscles and brain. As a complex carbohydrates, pasta digested more slowly that ensures a steady release of energy to keep you going throughout the day. Very low in sodium and cholesterol-free, pasta also is a good source of dietary fiber, B-group vitamins, and minerals.
Why dehydrate pasta if it’s already dried?
Many people have asked me, “Why dehydrate pasta? If it’s already dry, why would anyone bother dehydrating cooked pasta?” For me, there are a number of reasons:
- Like rice, it doesn’t take any more power to cook a big pot of pasta than it does to cook a small pot of pasta. Cook a big batch and dehydrate what you don’t use right away.
- Use up the leftovers from your meal. I always seem to cook more pasta than we need.
- Rehydrating cooked pasta is convenient and makes it ready to eat faster than cooking the raw pasta. Depending on how thick the pasta is, it can rehydrate in boiling water in just a few minutes and saves both time and fuel.
- It can be put together with other foods to make packaged one-dish meals, especially useful in casseroles.
- It’s ideal for instant soups.
- You can cook it on the trail without draining water off.
- You can mix dehydrated pasta together with other foods like powdered sauces to create one-pot meals.
What kind of pasta can you dehydrate?
You can use any pasta, but smaller/shorter varieties tend to work better. They don’t take up a lot of space such as angel hair, spaghetti or similar pastas. Long-shaped pasta is a bit harder to bag, with sharp ends that may damage the packaging.
However, you can use any kind of pasta. Anything–from thin spaghetti to wide fettuccini–works just fine. We make nests of the longer pasta so that they work better for dehydration and storage (see photos below).
To cook pasta for dehydrating:
- Cook the pasta as usual without any oils. Depending on the variety and where you live, it may take from eight to twelve minutes or so for the pasta to cook AFTER the water begins to boil. Under-cook your pasta by one to two minutes, as it will finish cooking while being rehydrated.
- When it’s tender, or nearly tender, remove it from the boiling water and plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Before placing in the dehydrator, put it through the salad spinner or blot with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
How to dehydrate pasta:
- Spread the cooked pasta on dehydrator mesh sheets (for small pasta shapes) in a single layer.
- If you are preparing longer noodles, take a fork and twirl the spaghetti into small nests, placing these on your trays.
- Dry pasta at 145°F/63°C for about 2-4 hours until hard. About half way through the drying time, flip them over to finish drying. This gives more exposure to air. Continue to dry this until it’s completely hard. Dried pasta will be hard and crisp and look/feel much like the raw versions.
- Be sure to check and stir the pasta on the racks several times. Short dense pastas will tend to stick together. Separate little pasta clumps stuck together. Spaghetti type pastas are thin enough that they don’t need stirred. As they dry, simply turn the portions over to allow for more air circulation.
- Storage: Put dried pasta into vacuum-sealed containers or jars bags. Store in a dry, dark place at room temperature for up to 5 years.
Rehydrating dehydrated cooked pasta:
- Bring a pot of water to the boil.
- Drop the desired amount of pasta in the boiling water and give it a stir.
- Depending on the thickness of the pasta, it will usually rehydrate in just a few minutes.
- Spaghetti hydrates almost instantly. By the time you give it a stir, it is already limp and ready to use.
- Remove from the water and serve.
In camp or on-the-go:
Use boiling water, and let sit in a cozy, Thermos, or wrapped and covered dish for 5-15 minutes depending on the size of the noodles.
Rehydration is equal amounts of water to pasta if you are adding a powdered sauce (add after noodles soften). For just rehydrating noodles alone, I found 2/3 cup of water was adequate to rehydrate 1 cup of noodles.
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