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Camping Recipes with Pinyon Pine Nuts

Pinyon Pine Nuts with Pasta

Have you ever eaten Pinyon Pine Nuts?

Chances are pretty good you’ve heard of and eaten regular ol’ pine nuts (aka pignolias). They’ve been a food source all the way back to Old Testament and before. They are still a primary ingredient in Mediterranean and Italian cooking. Classic pesto is made with basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and … tahdah … pine nuts!

But we’re talking Mojave Desert – southwestern U.S.A. That’s a long way from the Mediterranean Sea. Yet, nuts of the pinyon pine that grow at elevation in the mountains surrounding that desert have long been a favored food source as well. Fact is, pinyon nuts contain more protein by weight than any other nut or seed.

Pasta dishes like this are a traditional use of pine nuts, but Pinyon Pine Nuts make it extra special.

Pinyon Pine Nuts & Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
You’ll find versions of this recipe all over the place. What makes this one different is the fact you’re using the intensely flavored pinyon pine nuts and that you’re cooking it in a cast iron skillet over an open campfire! Save yourself some time in camp and pre-cook the pasta at home and bring it to camp in a zipper top bag. You’ll be ready in minutes.
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Camp Cooking
Serves: 6-8 servings

  • 1 lb. of your favorite pasta style cooked al dente, drained, and sealed in zipper top bag
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil (in total)
  • ⅔ cup pinyon pine nuts, toasted
  • ⅔ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil – drained and chopped, reserve oil
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves – roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley – roughly chopped
  • ⅛ cup fresh cilantro – roughly chopped
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • crushed red pepper flakes – optional
  • salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 Tbs. of olive oil and bring to temp.
  2. Add the pre-cooked pasta and stir-fry until it just starts to crisp – about 10 minutes.
  3. Move pasta to serving bowl, then add remaining 2 Tbs. of olive oil plus 1 Tbs. of olive oil reserved from tomatoes to skillet.
  4. Add toasted pinyon nuts and tomatoes. Stir over high heat for about 2 minutes.
  5. Pour hot mixture over pasta.
  6. Top with fresh, chopped herbs and cheese. Toss together.
  7. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and more cheese to taste.

Pinyon Pine Nuts Add Texture to Soup

Black Bean Soup with Pinyon Nuts
From the ingredient stand point this is a pretty simple vegetarian soup. You can make it rustic-style which is how you’d probably have it at the campsite, or gourmet it up in a home kitchen by making a puree of part of the mix and adding it back to the soup. As is typical of most bean soup recipes, this one is even better the second day.
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Camp Cooking
Serves: 8 servings

  • 4 cans of black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion – finely diced
  • 1 leek – carefully cleaned and finely sliced
  • 2 jalapeno chiles – seeds removed and finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic – smashed and minced
  • 4 cups water
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 Tbs. cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbs. mint – finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup pinyon nuts – toasted and chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • hot sauce (optional)

  1. Open two cans of black beans. Drain and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Heat Dutch oven over medium high heat.
  3. Add olive oil, then onion, leek, jalapeno, and garlic to sauté.
  4. Add beans and water, then bring to boil.
  5. Simmer until beans are heated through.
  6. Add salt.
  7. If you want, puree half the beans in a blender until smooth and the return to pot. (For rustic type soup, skip this step.)
  8. Add yogurt and reheat, stirring in pinyon nuts and cilantro.
  9. Reserve some nuts for garnish along with mint.
  10. Serve, allowing diners to add hot sauce to taste as desired.



Real Pinyon Pine Nuts are a seasonal bounty harvested mostly in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Gathering them and processing them is a labor intensive process. You’ll only be able to find them online with some research and at certain times of the year, and they will be expensive – unless you’re lucky enough to be there and possess the willingness to gather them yourself. You can substitute regular pine nuts with good results; they just won’t have quite as intense a flavor as the Pinyon Pine Nuts. We sourced our from Nuts.com


Check out more great 50 Campfires recipes for great pasta campsite meals.

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