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One-Pot Pesto Ratatouille: Camping Style

Posted by Sara on Aug 3, 2017


Once a year, my family and I like to pack up the car to the point where we can't see out the back window, and go camping out in the wilderness. I know this doesn’t appeal to everyone, but we love taking a break from our busy lives and disconnecting. Yeah, you need to get amped up emotionally to deal with the elements, but it's totally worth it once you take a bite of your first meal that you've cooked over the campfire. 


We drove about 2 hours southwest to Starved Rock State Park, and set up our cozy site in their official campground. Getting to this point does take a lot of work, but if you're organized and make lists you'll be well prepared. One list we spend a lot of time on is our day-to-day menu. We all love cooking and eating, so it’s essential to have all of the right tools and ingredients to make stellar meals over the fire.  

Our meals always consist of a delicious protein, a starch, and vegetable side, and on this particular trip it was the one-pot pesto ratatouille that ended up stealing the entire show! It was so easy to put together, and it was a great way to celebrate summer produce. 

summer vegetables for ratatouille

We used our Lodge Dutch oven for this recipe because this pan always accompanies us on our camping trips, and it’s really the perfect vessel for this type of cooking. My previous blog details how to cook over a campfire, and includes tips on why using cast iron pans are the absolute best when is comes to campfire cooking. 

My husband Mike and I arranged our summer produce with dollops of pesto in-between the layers of vegetables. 

veggies with pesto

Here's that pesto recipe which you'll want to make ahead at home and bring with you to the campsite.


Yield: 3/4 cup

Active time: 10 minutes

Start to finish: 10 minutes

 2 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 tablespoons romano cheese, grated

2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

  1. Turn on a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Drop in garlic cloves through top opening and process until finely minced.
  2. Turn off the processor, add pine nuts and cheeses and process until finely minced.
  3. Add the basil, and while the food processor is running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Refrigerate until use, up to 4 days, or freeze up to 3 months.

veggies with pesto

We set the pot on the grill grate over a medium fire, and let the vegetables slowly cook down, uncovered, until we had a stew of sorts.

vegetables and pesto on campfire

We continued to simmer the juices to evaporate some of the excess water until we had the consistency we wanted. The vegetables and pesto basically created their own sauce. 

ham and ratatouille

The awesome part about this campfire-friendly version of ratatouille is even though the vegetables had cooked down quite a bit, they still retained some nice texture, making this the perfect side dish that would go well with almost anything!  

campfire plate

I know campfire cooking can be a little intimidating if you’re new to it, but The Chopping Block has an educational and very detailed Guide to Campfire Cooking  that you should download now for an amazing assortment of recipes, tips and techniques. You’ll be surprised what can be cooked over a campfire!   

If you want to learn how to prepare a more traditional ratatouille recipe, then you should join us for our very popular class, The French Riviera. This French cooking class is being offered at the Lincoln Square location on August 26th and at our Merchandise Mart location on August 4th (tomorrow!) and August 30th. Sign up now for an incredible feast featuring the best summer has to offer!

Campfire Cooking Guide


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