The roadside Sous-Chef aka Cooking with Lisa Thomas at The Overland Event 2022

I bought Lisa‘s book Dirty Dining in 2017 when it was first published. It’s an interesting in combination of adventure travel and food. Back then I had never camped or owned a stove. My travels were always on the paved road and my overnight accommodation, with the exception of a glamping experience, was always a hotel or lodge. I sourced my food from Cafes, bars and restaurants.

I have plenty of cookbooks but this one appealed to my love of food and my love of adventure motorcycle travel. It’s filled not only with recipes but some great stories behind those recipes. I’ve tried a few of the recipes on the hob at home but never on a small stove… until now.

the Overland Event 2022

I had been alerted via email that there would be an opportunity to cook along at Lisa’s cooking demo at The Overland Event 2022. The email contained a list of ingredients for a Chorizo and Pea Risotto, most of which I already had. The only thing I didn’t have was a tin peas which was easily sorted.

When I arrived at the cooking presentation it became obvious that the only person cooking with Lisa was myself and that I would be upfront of the presentation. There would be no hiding although while this was my first cook along on camp gear, this ain’t my first cooking rodeo! The demo went great and soon we both had a tasty risotto.

A taste of Italy

I have a number of bog-standard midweek recipes regulars and inspired by my Overland experience I thought I’d try a roadside adaption on one. I think the most interesting thing about Lisa’s recipes is the substitutions from chilled ingredients to an ambient alternative.

This is my roadside take on my Pasta Arrabbiata.

The first adaptation is the chilled element, pepperoni. The replacement is a bit obvious in the form of Peperami sticks. These are often seen in a fridge but require no refrigeration. 

The recipe calls for green chilli. It might be that these are readily available and if so, great. However, it may be a good idea to exchange this for dried red chilli flakes. You need to know your diners as the ones I currently have are VERY hot!

My final substitution relates to the tomato element. I would normally use a tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. I think this could possibly be simplified by using a tin of plum tomatoes having a lower water content for a thicker sauce and a teaspoon of sugar. This would eliminate the tomato puree.

It may be possible to use dried garlic rather than garlic clove. That may be something that requires experimentation but I’d have hoped that garlic is widely available while travelling. I’ve always used red pepper in this recipe but it may be possible to omit it completely. If they are readily available I’d keep it in for the colour, and extra nutrition. 

I have not substituted the alcohol as I don’t believe that any traveller would not have some stashed away. While my favourite in this recipe is a slug of sherry, I have used whatever is to hand over the years such as vermouth or red wine.

The Recipe – Roadside Pasta Arrabbiata


Serves 2

  • 150g Penne Pasta (uncooked)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (diced) or alternative
  • 1 large Peperami stick (cut into small slices)
  • 1 red pepper (cut into strips)
  • 1 slug of red wine
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes (crushed)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Dried Italian herbs
  • Black pepper and salt (to season and cook the pasta)
  • Parmesan to serve (optional)


In the interests of simplification and to keep the recipe down to single stove use I suggest that the pasta is cooked beforehand in salted water. It can be reheated when introduced to the sauce. Don’t forget to keep a cup of the water that the pasta is cooked in. We can use that for the sauce. The pasta will take around 10-12 minutes or until ‘al dente’.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the garlic, onion and chilli. Gently sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until the onion has softened and is slightly translucent. 

Add the red pepper and peperami and cook for a further five minutes or so while stirring occasionally until the pepper has softened. 

Turn up the heat and add the red wine. Cook off the alcohol for a minute and then add the plum tomatoes and the sugar. You can crush the plum tomatoes in the pan with your spoon. Add a teaspoon of the Italian herbs, season with salt and pepper and slowly simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. As the sauce thickens and before the pasta is introduced into the sauce add some of the starchy water we put on one side. This will help thicken and season the sauce. 

Before adding the pasta to the pan check the seasoning and adjust if required. Add the pasta to the pan and stir thoroughly to coat the pasta while it reheats.

Serve with some of our optional parmesan and some black pepper.

Equipment required:

  • Stove 
  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Pan
  • Bowl (for the pasta while we do the sauce)
  • Cup (for the pasta water retained)
  • Stirring spoon

Update: I’ve since cooked this recipe while camping at the Overland Spring Event. Here are some pictures of the recipe coming together. I even bagged another portion to reheat.

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