02 August 2012

Grilled Foil Packets

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving to drive to Philly for a long weekend because one of Shana's best friends is getting married on Sunday. Because Shana's working tomorrow and her first day with students is on Monday, she's flying from Indy to Philly and back. Since I'm going to be in the car for 10 hours tomorrow, then busy with family and wedding stuff, then driving 10 hours on Monday, I won't have much time to post. Besides, if I post something every day, I'm going to run out of recipes! However, I don't want to leave my (approximately 10?) loyal readers without a new idea to try over the weekend, so below is one of our all-time favorites: grilled foil packets of veggies (which we insensitively call "Hobo Packets" due to their resemblance (when wrapped) to the cloth packages hanging off sticks in historical cartoon versions of those who were homeless and/or setting out to claim their fortune).

If you've ever been camping, you've likely had these before, but you can make foil packets really easily using your grill at home. In addition, foil packets are infinitely customize-able, which makes them fun for groups of people with varied tastes or kids (mini-munchers) who like to choose their own foods. What's more, foil packets have won over every vegetable-hater we've met. Our nephew even gave an impromptu speech about the virtues of these after eating his first one. Then he eyed Shana's broccoli, since he'd been certain he wouldn't like it and didn't put enough in his own packet. Shana shared. Finally, foil packets are a great way to get a ton of veggies into your diet, and we're supposed to eat a lot of them!

Grilled Foil Packets
All you need is a few veggies, oil, and seasonings of your choice. We always use red potatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower, but anything goes! Here are some ideas, use the veggies you like and skip the ones you don't (all amounts given are for adult-size appetites):
     1/2 to 1 red potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and microwaved until about half-cooked
     1/2 head broccoli (or more, if you've got broccoli lovers)
     1/3 head cauliflower
     6-8 green beans, trimmed and cut in half
     4-5 stalks asparagus, ends cut off and cut into thirds
     1/4 to 1/2 bell pepper, cut into inch long pieces
     1/2 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
     1/4 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
     1/4 small onion, cut into bite-sized pieces and layers separated
Oil for drizzling (choose a lightly flavored oil, like extra light olive or canola)
Seasonings of choice (we use only seasoned salt on ours, but experiment with any seasoning you enjoy, from basil to thyme, lemon pepper to chipotle pepper)

1. Preheat grill. Use all burners even if your foil packets won't cover the whole space.
2. Rip a big (16 inches or so) piece of foil and lay it, non-stick side up, on a work space.
3. Layer the veggies in the middle of the sheet of foil, starting with things that take the longest to cook, like potatoes.
4. Drizzle on some oil and sprinkle with seasonings of choice. Go lighter than you think with the seasonings, you can always add more when the packets come off the grill.
5. Wrap your foil packet so that it is air-tight. The easiest way is to bring the two short sides of the foil together over your pile of veggies, then roll them downwards, crimping the two sides together as you go. From there, roll in one of the open sides, push in any escaping veggies, and roll in the other side.
6. Place on the grill (keep the lid closed) for about 16 minutes for packets about 7 inches across, less time for smaller ones.

Helpful Hints
  • Non-stick foil is a life-saver here. Seriously, this recipe and my enchiladas are about the only times we use non-stick foil; we use recycled foil for everything else. You can make these without non-stick foil, but be prepared for major stickage.
  • If you are doing this with a large group of people, I find it helpful to grill them in alphabetical order so that the sorting before eating is minimal. 
  • These can done in the oven as well, just turn your oven up very high (450) and put them on your lowest rack. They will also take longer, likely 20-25 minutes.
  • If you feel like you're missing something, add a side of some mixed rice (there are a number of lovely commercially available blends), but keep an eye on cooking times. 
  • Chopping veggies, except the potatoes, ahead of time can make this dinner really speedy!
  • These are soy- and gluten-free for those with allergies/intolerance.
The post "Grilled Foil Packets" originally appeared on Maggie's LesVegan Kitchen.