The thing that really convinced me to become plant-based (at least the superficial thing) was discovering how I can use cashews to make things creamy. Blending cashews with marinara to make a creamy pasta sauce was the first dish I made that used this trick and I’ve been smitten ever since. Now I throw cashews in everything.
I’ve played around with adding cashew butter to my backpacking meals and it often works great. You can buy little packets of cashew butter at natural food stores or online, and if you mix the cashew butter with some warm liquid at camp, you can add that creaminess to lots of different dishes. This Creamy Grits With Kale and Sunflower recipe is one of my favorites.
But as much as I love the simplicity of adding a little cashew butter to my meals at camp, sometimes it doesn’t work as well as I want it to. I tried using cashew butter and powdered tomatoes to replicate my favorite sauce on a backpacking trip last summer, but I just couldn’t get the same creaminess that I was looking for.
When I got my dehydrator, a whole new world opened up to me! I’ve had fun blending up my favorite creamy sauces and seeing how they dehydrate. The results have been impressive.
For this recipe, make the sauce, blend it and pour it on dehydrator sheets. When it is dehydrated, it’ll end up looking like fruit leather, but more brittle (if it’s not brittle, it needs a little longer in the dehydrator). In a completely dry blender, blend up the tomato sauce leather to create a powder. This step is important- without blending it the sauce doesn’t rehydrate as nicely.
The pasta comes together easily at camp. You could definitely rehydrate the sauce in a separate pot from your pasta pot, but to minimize dishes I’ve found that you can just sprinkle the tomato sauce powder directly into the pasta cooking pot. You’ll want to set aside some of your pasta cooking water so that the dish doesn’t turn into soup. I take some of the water out and then slowly add it back in once the pasta finishes cooking and the sauce is rehydrated (see instructions for more details).
The recipe is written for two large servings, but you might want to double or even triple it in order to make it worth the effort of dehydrating and blending the sauce into a powder. You can store the powder in the freezer to ensure a longer shelf life.