Garden Lifestyle

Vegetable Bundle Basics

When I wrote about grilling last weekend, I got a number of requests on how to make veggie bundles.

Veggie bundles are actually fun and easy to make--and the reward is that they taste really good.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Every summer of my life as a child, I was fortunate to go to my paternal grandmother’s shore house on the weekends. It was so much fun because I had many cousins (15 of us in all) and we spent the majority of the time in the river and then we were famished for supper. There was a big brick barbecue for grilling and there was one side that had a big enough grill to hold a washtub of corn on the cob. The grill could easily hold 20 or 30 bundles. Mema Alma, my mother and aunts used to make an assembly line and lay the foil squares out on the kitchen table. Each bundle got a small-to-medium sliced potato, a piece of chicken and/or sausage link, onion slices overall, a few small pieces of butter, and then was seasoned with salt and pepper. I loved it when they let me help.

Once I became a vegetarian, I adapted the potato bundle recipe, leaving out the meat-using a good-sized potato, more onion and sometimes red bell pepper slices-and I used extra-virgin olive oil. My favorite herb in a potato bundle is a sprig of rosemary, with a few sprigs of thyme as my second choice, although fennel is also tasty.

Eventually my bundles evolved once I found that potatoes aren’t the only veggies to grill in bundles; try other root vegetables cut into slices, or any smaller-shaped vegetables like asparagus, green beans or snow peas.

Although my grandmother never used sweet potatoes, I just love them on the grill. My favorite herb with sweet potatoes is sage; it is a sweet and earthy combo. Also chile peppers are great with sweet patooties. I like to sprinkle on chili powder or add some minced chipotles en adobo after drizzling with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Most root vegetables are good candidates for the grill, although since they are dense, they take a little longer to grill than say, green beans or asparagus. Slice carrots and/or parsnips into coins, drizzle olive oil, add an herb sprig like thyme or sweet marjoram if desired, and salt and pepper.

Slice and halve large beets or quarter smaller ones. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sometimes, I add about a teaspoon or two of orange juice and orange zest, or I often add a heaping teaspoon of grated horseradish.

I use about a large handful or green beans or asparagus per bundle. Savory is my favorite herb with green beans. Asparagus really needs not herbs, though I do like one or two green garlics or scapes in the bundle.

To make the bundles, clear a kitchen counter space for the bundle assembly line. First tear off large squares to rectangles of foil and lay them on the counter in a row. Place one good-sized serving of veggie in the center of the square. Drizzle lightly with olive oil or dot with butter, add onion slices or garlic, an herb if desired and season with salt and pepper.

It is important on how you roll/fold the foil package since you don’t want any of that lovely, juicy essence to leak out. First roll/fold the sides of the package neatly together, then roll/fold the ends in tight. Don’t scrunch it-just fold firmly, tucking ends in tight.

Carry the bundles out to the grill on a baking sheet, so you have it handy when you remove the hot bundles from the grill after cooking. Put bundles on the grill first because they are more bulky than sliced veggies or a burger. They generally take about 25 to 30 minutes depending on the heat–sometimes up to 40 minutes if it is a large potato. Turn them halfway through cooking.

I always make extra bundles so that I have leftovers the next day. Grilled veggies are great in frittatas or omelets, on sandwiches, or tossed with pasta or any cooked grain to make a salad.

Once you make these, they will become apart of your grilling repertoire-and you will find lots of other bundles to make! These bundles will make a great cookout to celebrate the summer solstice this weekend-happy summer!



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