There is a portion of the Californian West coast known as the Lost Coast. Missed by the Pacific Coast Highway, this part of the State is virgin and untouched. We spent two days in this handsome landscape, driving through rolling hills covered with happy cows and wild flowers and setting camp in empty black beaches alive and wild.

 On our first night on the Lost Coast, we arrived to camp after a two-hour drive through the most idyllic of farms. We arrive at a desolate beach where the Mattole River and the Pacific Ocean meet. That afternoon we hiked through a portion of the Lost Coast trail, notorious for its isolated backcountry camping areas and mountain lions.

Abundant in wild flowers, poison oak, and empty of people, we spend the second night at the bottom of Usal Road. After a 45 minute dirt road, we set out on a walk to the beach, determined to watch the sun set. With a herd of elk in the background (only a couple hundred feet away) we sat on a log and hung out.  After fifteen minutes, the beach became alive with the widest array of sea life: otters, seals, and eventually a band of whales, sea world in real life, all a couple feet away. Pretty and awesome.

*Starry night photo credit to Day Jimenez!

This meal was made on our first night at the Lost Coast. With our feet dark from walking on black sands we set out to make this meal.

Since this one of the few nights in which our campsite was protected from the wind, we decided to utilize our daily fire to cook for the first time. We wrapped a red bell pepper and a half pint of tomatoes we had bought the previous day, and placed it above a fire to cook for about half an hour. As the vegetables sizzled, I put a pot with water to boil over a burner for cooking pasta. Within less than half hour we were eating a delicious fire roasted pepper and tomato pasta. The pepper and tomatoes caramelized slowly over the fire, releasing an amazing combination of sweet and smoke. When combined with cumin and olive oil, the flavors transform into a hearty, earthy, sweet pasta!

Though this recipe feeds two, it can be easily doubled, or tripled to serve a crown on a warm spring/summer day accompanied by a good bottle of wine and a nice piece of bread.

Fire Roasted Pepper & Tomato Pasta

Serves 2

About 30 minutes

  • 1 cup dried pasta of choice (I used GF, quinoa penne pasta)
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5w cups of water, enough to fully submerge the pasta
  • 1 whole red bell pepper
  • ½ cup grape tomatoes, or one tomato sliced into eighths
  • ½ tsp. cumin powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • ¼ cup pistachios

This recipe requires you to fire roast a red bell pepper and several tomatoes. You can either do this on a grill, on a real fire, or in an oven. For either technique independently wrap the pepper and the tomatoes. If cooking atop an open fire, or the grill, roast over high heat for at least 30 minutes, turning every ten minutes or so. The peppers skin should be charred and the flesh soft. The tomatoes should be fully cooked and soft after 30 minutes as well. If roasting in an oven, set temperature to 450 degrees, Fahrenheit, and roast for 30 minutes.

Once the pepper is ready, remove from the fire, peel outer skin, remove stem and seeds, then thinly slice. Remove tomatoes from the grill.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, olive oil and pasta. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until pasta pasta is cooked al dente. Drain, reserving about ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside.

 Place pasta back over a medium-low heat burner. Incorporate sliced pepper and tomatoes into the pasta. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cumin. Stir until everything is well incorporated, adding pasta water little by little, to help moisten it, especially if it is looking dry. When ready to serve, add a handful of chopped cilantro and pistachios. Serve immediately and eat hot.