Pick a Pack(et) of Perfect Produce!
Pick a Packet of Perfect Produce, Pick a Packet of Perfect Produce, Pack a Perket of Picket..…aw nuts! A tongue twister may trip you up when you try to say it three times fast, but nothing could be easier, or more delicious, than the best of the summer’s bounty all wrapped up in a shiny foil packet and cooked outdoors on the grill. Often, the idea of cooking vegetables on the grill sounds like too much work. Chasing tiny rings of red onion around the grates, asparagus spears that dangle toward the flames and fall just as you lunge to their rescue. So much drama! So much trouble! Maybe that’s why so many backyard grillers think that meat and meat alone belongs on the fire and the stuff that’s “good for you” can be handled by a scoop of potato salad or some corn on the cob. Well I am here to tell you, you can have your meat and your veggies, too. Drama free. The hero of this tale is foil. Aluminum foil, al-u-minium foil, tin foil…call it what you will. A couple sheets of the shiny stuff will change your idea about summer vegetables forever.
Making the packet itself is simple. Chop, slice or dice your favorite veggies, pile them in the center of the foil, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, a glug of olive oil or a spritz of lemon, bring two of the sides together and fold them over to make a seal, do the same with the other two sides and ….voilá! A Perfect Packet ready for the grill! What can you put in these amazing packets? That’s the best part! You are limited only by your imagination! You can put anything and almost everything in a packet! One of my favorites comes straight out of the garden. I cut the greens off of red or yellow beets, peel, then chunk the beets, put a tablespoon of sweet butter in the center of the foil, pile on the beets, a little more butter, salt and pepper, then the washed greens, a final tablespoon of butter, fold it up and it’s ready for the grill. And cleanup is a breeze! Unless I’m getting all fancy for company, I serve the beets right out of the packet and save a pot, pan or plate from turning beet red.
The veggies will cook in a steam sauté, so you won’t get the pretty grill marks, but you won’t risk burning them to a crisp either---or losing them to the fire. What else can you put in a packet? How about zucchini? You can make packets that are all zucchini, or you can put together combos. Zucchini and onion. Zucchini and onion and tomatoes. Zucchini and onion and tomatoes and mushrooms. Whatever strikes your fancy. You can get family and friends in on the fun as well and have them design their own packets. Prepare an array of fresh, raw vegetables along with herbs from the garden and some of your favorite seasonings, oils and extras like lemons, limes, mustards and vinegars. A packet of tiny new potatoes and fresh green beans, gussied up with some Dijon mustard and a sprinkle of tarragon. Shucked sweet corn, on or off the cob, with a sprinkle of chili powder, a squeeze of lime and some finely chopped jalapeños (if you dare!). Here is a summer classic that takes advantage of all that is best at the farmer’s market this month---RATATOUILLE in a FOIL PACKET. Use your imagination and let your taste buds be your guide. It’s summertime and the grillin’ is easy---and delicious!
RATATOUILLE in a FOIL PACKET
Makes 2 large packets
1 yellow summer squash
1-2 bell peppers (any color)
2-3 fresh tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
4 Tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary
Chop all vegetables and herbs. On 2 separate sheets of aluminum foil, drizzle 1 Tablespoon olive oil in the center and place one quarter of the garlic and one quarter of the fresh herbs on top of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Dividing the amount of each chopped vegetable in half, mound the vegetables in the center of the foil and finish with another Tablespoon of olive oil, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Now it is time to seal up the packet. This can be done one of two ways, depending on the size of your foil and the amount of vegetables. Either:
Bring the top and bottom edge of the foil together, above the center of the vegetables, and fold the edges over themselves at least 2 times to seal. On each long side of the packet, fold the edges in towards themselves and fold or roll towards the center of the packet to seal. If you are using a thinner type foil, tear off another sheet and wrap around the packet to fully secure.
If your packet is larger, take a second sheet of foil that is close to the same size as the bottom sheet and lay over the top of the vegetables. Beginning at the side closest to you, fold or roll the 2 sheets together at least 2 times to seal. Do the same with the opposite side. Bring the folds in as close as you can until you can feel that you are touching vegetables. Next fold or roll the ends in a similar fashion until you have a tight package. If you are using a thinner type foil, tear off another sheet and wrap around the packet to fully secure.
Place on the grill (or in a 375° oven) and cook, turning packet occasionally until vegetables are tender, 20-45 minutes depending on the grill’s heat. In a 375° oven, cooking time is approximately 30-35 minutes. When finished, open the packet carefully to avoid the hot steam and enjoy!