I believe in the cliché that “you eat first with your eyes.” But that’s the second step in deciding whether you are going to eat something. The first is, “it’s got to smell great to taste great.” And this dish delivers on both counts.
Among its other virtues (besides a heavenly aroma and nice presentation), are simplicity and versatility. Maybe best of all for the harried cook, it doesn’t dirty a single pot or pan. The essentials are a large sprig of fresh rosemary, an orange, vegetables, and aluminum foil. The vegetables are “grilled,” but only in the broadest sense of the word: using a grill for its intense, indirect heat. It is a perfect recipe to take your grilling adventures in a whole new direction, but in a pinch you can prepare it in the oven too.
I’ve tried many vegetables in the mix: carrots, onions (yellow, red, and sweet), peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes (red and Yukon gold), squash (acorn, butternut and yellow/summer), broccoli, and cauliflower. All have worked beautifully. The hardest vegetables soften and the softest ones, like tomatoes, almost melt. The result is similar to ratatouille in texture, but with a thinner and more fragrant “juice.” The only vegetables I wouldn’t recommend using are leafy ones that tend to get soggy when steamed or those (like cabbage) that have a less-than-pleasant aroma when boiled or steamed.
The directions below are for a charcoal grill. Whatever form of indirect heat you use, make sure the grill or oven is quite hot. The quantities are only approximate and by modifying the amount of vegetables, one packet can serve 2 or 5 as easily as 4. For more than six servings, make a second one with another orange and more rosemary, so that the size of the packet doesn’t get unwieldy.
Rosemary and Citrus-Infused Vegetables
Servings – 4 Cost – $6
- 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 orange, preferably navel
- 4 cups assorted vegetables (mix colors and textures)
- Salt (preferably kosher or coarse sea salt) and pepper to taste
Equipment (besides grill or other heat source)
- Aluminum foil
- Cutting board
- Vegetable peeler (if necessary)
- Platter and large barbecue spatula or hot pad-type gloves to remove the packet from the fire
- Prepare the grill, so that the coals are white hot.
- Roughly chop vegetables and cut the orange in half. I make my vegetable chunks slightly larger than bite-sized and don’t get too obsessive about uniformity. Sometimes I leave the peppers in rings.
- Place 2 long sheets of aluminum foil on a table in a cross pattern. Put the orange halves directly on the foil at the center, cut side down. Add the vegetables chunks in a pile and top with the fresh rosemary, salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Tightly close the packet. If your packet has any gaps, add another sheet of foil on the outside, so that there is no open space for steam to escape.
- Put the packet directly on the coals, close the grill cover, and cook for about 20 minutes. Remember that the grill vents must be open or the fire will die out. You can add the grill grate above the packet and cook other foods while the vegetable packet is in the coals.
- Carefully remove the packet from the fire and place it on platter. (Make sure not to touch the aluminum foil directly – it’s incredibly hot, but you knew that, right?)
As you open the packet, enjoy the citrus herb aroma and the steamy goodness of the vegetables.