Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta | Ultralight Backpacking Recipe

By Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD

Updated September 16, 2022

This post may contain affiliate links.

Backcountry Foodie Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta DIY ultralight Backpacking Recipe image image

Have you ever made homemade pesto before? You may have thought it couldn’t get much easier. You were wrong! Backcountry Foodie’s cold soak backpacking pesto recipe takes just a few minutes to prepare and packs a surprisingly flavorful punch with no fresh basil required. The best part? You don’t have to clean the food processor.

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At Home:

At home, make a “pesto packet” with garlic powder, dried basil, salt, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Pack olive oil separately. On the trail, simply rehydrate your pasta and sun-dried tomatoes, then add the other ingredients to make your sauce.

In the Field:

Depending on your style, you can make this a hot meal or a cold soak dinner. If you cold soak it, be sure to use precooked, dehydrated pasta. If you plan to bring a stove and aren’t in a hurry, you can also cook your pasta on the trail. If you’re not familiar with dehydrating your own pasta, consider watching our YouTube video about it.

This grocery-friendly cold soak backpacking pesto recipe packs a flavorful punch with no fresh basil required. You may find yourself eating it at home, too! #backpackingmealideas #backpackingfoodrecipes #coldsoakbackpackingrecipes #dehydratedbackpackingmeals #backcountryfoodie

Need a gluten-free recipe?

Not a problem!

Chickpea pasta makes an excellent gluten-free substitution in this recipe. Even if you aren’t gluten-free, you might consider giving chickpea pasta a try. It contains more protein and fiber than regular pasta and is a great way to add variety. Enjoy!

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    Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

    Backcountry Foodie Recipe
    This is another recipe that you might consider keeping on hand at home for those evenings when you're looking for a quick and nutritious meal.
    Rate This Recipe
    4.72 from 28 votes
    View Comments / Leave A Review

    NUTRITION (per serving)

    cal/oz 138
    cal/gram 4.9
    Calories 593 kcal
    PROTEIN 17 g
    CARBS 51 g
    Fiber 6 g
    Added Sugar 0 g
    Fat 38 g
    Sodium 728 mg
    Home Prep Time 4 minutes
    Field Prep Time 5 minutes
    WT/SERVING 4.3 oz (120 g)
    MEAL PREPCold Soak, Cook
    Diet TYPESGluten-Free, Low-Sugar, Vegetarian
    Servings1 serving



    INSTRUCTIONS (per serving)


    • Put noodles and diced tomatoes in a bag or container to be used in the backcountry. Kitchen scissors work well for dicing tomatoes.
    • Put the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bag or container to be stored with the noodles. See meal prep tips below.
    • Pack 2 Tbsp (28 g) olive oil in a leakproof container to be added when the meal is consumed. We recommend double bagging the oil in the event there is a leak.


    • Remove the pesto packet from the noodle bag or container.
    • Add 8 oz (240 mL) hot/cold water or enough to cover the noodles.
    • Let stand until noodles are fully rehydrated. This will take approximately 5 minutes with hot water or 60 minutes with cold water.
    • Consume or properly discard the noodle broth to follow the Leave No Trace principle.
    • Add pesto packet and 2 Tbsp (28 g) olive oil to the noodles.
    • Stir to mix well and enjoy!



    • Omit pine nuts for a nut-free option. This will not result in a significant change in taste or texture.
    • Noodles do not have to be precooked and dehydrated if willing to cook noodles on the trail.
    • If preparing the meal for long-term storage, we recommend not adding the parmesan cheese until just before consuming the meal. By doing so, the shelf-life of the meal will be lengthened significantly.



    • Total sugar (per serving): 5 g with no added sugar
    • To reduce the sodium content of the recipe by 291 mg, replace table salt with a salt substitute as desired.
    • To reduce calories by 120, reduce the olive oil volume by 1 Tbsp (14 g). We do not recommend omitting all of the oil, as the oil is needed to create a pesto sauce.
    Did you make this recipe? We’d love to see it!Share photos from your kitchen or the backcountry below.

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    Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta in a freezer bag


    Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD, is a registered dietitian and ultralight long-distance backpacker with over 20 years of nutrition and backpacking experience. She’s also the founder and owner of Backcountry Foodie, an online ultralight recipes and meal planning platform for backpackers. She also enjoys teaching hikers about backpacking nutrition via virtual masterclassesYouTube videos, and podcast episodes. You can follow Aaron’s adventures in the kitchen and the backcountry via Instagram and Facebook.

    One Comment

    • 5 stars
      Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you hav the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.


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