When old standby methods of preparation result in boring vegetable side dishes served over and over again, kick up the presentation and flavors with foil packet cooking. Ideal for a busy household, the packets take minimal time to assemble, and once you pop them in the oven, there are no stirring, turning or fussy stove top maneuvers left to accomplish. Interest children in healthier eating when you let them put together their own combination of veggies to cook in foil wrapping.
Clean and cut zucchini and summer squash into ½- to 1-inch-thick slices. Add scrubbed, small new potatoes cut into quarters or eighths, bite-sized red bell pepper pieces and sliced onion for a classic foil-wrapped vegetable combination. Adjust the mix to accommodate the type of vegetables that are in season, such as fresh snow pea pods and green onions. Frozen vegetables, like whole green beans, may be included for greater variety.
Place the prepared vegetables in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle about a tbsp. of Italian-style salad dressing per cup of vegetables into the bowl. Alternatively, season the veggies with minced garlic, dried or fresh herbs or dry onion soup mix to suit your taste preferences. If you are not using dressing, add 1 tbsp. of water or about 2 tsp. of olive oil per cup of vegetables to the bowl. Stir the vegetables until all the components are evenly distributed.
Lay sections of heavy-duty aluminum foil, about 14- to 16-inches-long, on the counter to make individual vegetable servings. To prepare multiple servings all at once as a family-size vegetable dish, lay out one sheet of aluminum foil that's 20- to 24-inches-long.
Spoon 1 to 1 ½ cup of the seasoned vegetables onto the foil's center for an individual serving. Lift two opposite edges of the foil sheet and fold them together in 1-inch increments. Roll each of the remaining open sides toward the center, pressing each fold tightly with your fingers to form an enclosed packet. For family-size servings, place up to 3 cups of the vegetables on a larger sheet of foil and fold it together to form a packet.
Place the foil packets, folded sides up, on the center rack of an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees F. Bake the vegetables for 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove the foil packets from the oven and set them on a plate. Poke four or five holes in the foil at the top of each packet to allow the steam to escape. After five minutes, unfold the foil carefully to serve the vegetables.
Things You'll Need
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
Create a kid-friendly vegetable mixture by stirring pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce into the veggies before baking them in foil. Top the cooked vegetables with a sprinkling of grated cheese just before serving.
Leafy green vegetables like spinach and chard do not hold up well to foil-wrapped cooking in the oven. Limit their use to small quantities added for color in a mix of more robust vegetables.