It’s the Fourth of July, and summer is in full swing here in the Midwest.
These long, warm days have an effect on our bodies—specifically, on our appetites. Ever notice how Mother Nature has a way of providing seasonal foods that suit our needs at a given time of the year? Think about the vegetables that thrive in the heat: tomatoes, melons, cucumbers. What do they have in common? They’re all high in water content. They don’t need to be cooked. They’re refreshing, and perfect for eating this time of year. (Consider, too, fall vegetables—dark leafy greens, winter squashes, apples—they’re more fleshy, heartier, and require more extensive cooking, and they’re just what we crave when cooler weather comes.)
With summer produce, I prefer minimal prep and cooking, the better to preserve that seasonally perfect character. One of my favorite summer cooking techniques for farmers’ market vegetables is to place them on a sheet of lightly oiled aluminum foil, seal up the packet and then place it on the grill for 15 to 20 minutes.
This is a non-recipe for grilled vegetables—it’s more of a technique, really, along the lines of our Modular Cooking idea. I’ll share the basic preparation for grilled vegetables in foil and offer different flavor combinations. Quantities don’t matter—prepare as many vegetables as you’d like, and consider making more than what you need for tonight’s dinner, because the leftover grilled vegetables can be repurposed into summer vegetable soup or pasta salad.
easy grilled vegetables in foil
Tear off a large sheet of aluminum foil, about 20 to 24 inches long and lay it horizontally on the counter. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the right half; smear it around with your fingers to coat the foil. Prepare your vegetables in any combination you like and in a large bowl, toss vegetables with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Fold the left-hand side of the foil over the right, and crimp the edges all around to seal. Place foil packet on the grill over medium heat; cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil packet to a large plate and let cool a few minutes before opening (watch out for escaping hot steam).
You can add sprigs of strong, woody herbs like rosemary, oregano or thyme atop the veggies before sealing up the foil packet (remove the stems before serving). Soft herbs like parsley and basil are best added after the vegetables have come off the grill, right before serving. You can't go wrong with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan before serving, either.
These vegetables work well for grilling in foil:
- New or fingerling potatoes (cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and steam them for 6 to 8 minutes before putting in foil)
- Corn, cut off the cob
- Diced or sliced zucchini or summer squash
- Diced or sliced eggplant
- Mushrooms, cleaned and halved
- Onion, diced or thinly sliced
- Garlic, minced
- Red or green bell pepper, diced or sliced
- Large cherry tomatoes
Combinations to try:
- Zucchini + corn + onion + thyme
- Cherry tomatoes + zucchini + onion + Italian seasoning + Parmesan
- Fingerling potatoes + minced garlic + rosemary
- Mushrooms + garlic + Pimenton
- Red bell pepper + onion + garlic + jalapeno (to taste) + cumin + oregano