The Cheesy, Comforting Classic You Need To Roast Over An Open Fire This Summer

An essential part of planning a camping trip is putting together a list of meals you can cook outdoors. Pasta may not be at the top of your mind as something that's great for roasting over a campfire, but imagine enjoying some warm lasagna to fend off the nighttime chill. Cooking it outdoors also infuses its gooey cheesiness with a smoky flavor for a richer-tasting meal.

To roast this classic comfort dish outdoors, you must bring the right ingredients and the right cookware. The Dutch oven is a heavy-duty pot that can handle campfire cooking, but it's important not to cook with it on top of an open fire. Dutch ovens warm up slowly, yet retain heat well. Placing it on top of campfire flames, where the heat is high and uncontrollable, will likely burn the food. This is especially true for something like lasagna, which needs time for its noodles to cook and for the flavors to meld together. 

Instead, let the fire burn down to yield a pile of live coals. It'll be easier to control the temperature by adding or reducing the pieces you use, and the heat will be more consistent. Just like when cooking lasagna in the oven at home, preheat the Dutch oven to reach 350 F by stacking the pot on top of pieces of hot charcoal and placing several pieces on the lid. Once the pot is warmed up, remove it from the coals so you can start making the lasagna. 

Prep some of the lasagna's components at home

You can't go wrong with the classic lasagna Bolognese, and with a preheated Dutch oven, you can brown the meat and make your sauce right in the pot before assembling the dish. For something extra creamy, try our white lasagna with sausage and ricotta; cooking it over coals will give it a woodsy, smoky taste that'll balance the béchamel's richness. You can also make the sauce at home then pack it properly in a cooler so it's quicker to assemble and roast the lasagna at the campsite. An example would be the tofu ricotta in our vegan lasagna recipe.

Just like with homemade lasagna, remember to use sauce as your base layer to minimize the risk of food sticking to the bottom of the pot. It's also best to use oven-ready noodles when cooking lasagna outdoors. This kind of pasta doesn't have to be boiled, so it cuts down your prep time while also ensuring that the noodles in your lasagna turn out soft and cooked.

Once the dish is assembled, cover the Dutch oven and return it back to the coals. Place coals on its lid so the dish gets heated from both directions for the next 30 minutes or so. For better heat distribution, rotate the pot and the lid once in a while. Once the cheese on top has melted and turned lightly brown, remove the pot from the coals. Let the lasagna rest before serving.