Sing: Oh, the weather outside is delightful. Here in the northland, spring usually doesn’t really arrive until April or sometimes May, but this year has been a glorious exception. We have been in the 50s, 60s and even 70s much of the time for the whole of March. Hallelujah! In the cold years (read: most of the time), I wonder why my ancestors chose to “drop anchor” here … in the tundra … Frostbite Falls. They could have chosen the Florida Keys, for example … or a mild winter locale like Kentucky or southern Illinois. But nooooooo … they wanted to live in the contiguous state that routinely has the lowest temps in the nation. Go figure. Sturdy German stock, I guess (with a little Lutheran guilt thrown in for good measure).
But let’s focus on the wonderfulness that comes only with an early spring. I haven’t had to cover my face to go outside in months! And even better … the grill came out way early! Two things I have discovered that brought a whole new level of joy to grilling (Anywhere! Not just in Minnesota!): 1) Tastefully Simple (obviously!), and 2) the smoker box we bought last year for $10. Holy cats, how I love that thing! Add a few fragrant wood chips and take your grilling to a whole new, flavorful level.
We celebrated our grill last weekend with a grill-only meal that swept us off our feet. There were potato packets (one of my few grilling specialties), wild rice bratwurst (slathered with Burger & Brat Mustard, of course) and beautiful marinated veggies.
So get that grill dusted off and fired up … I think you’re going to like this!
- 4 potatoes (I always use baking potatoes)
- 2 strips bacon
- Onion Onion™ to taste
- Seasoned Salt to taste
- Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning to taste
Preheat the grill. Scrub the potatoes well; slice them about ¼-inch thick, keeping the slices close together as you cut so that you can kind of “fan” them out (see photo for details). Transfer each potato to a piece of heavy-duty foil or a double sheet of regular foil. Cut the bacon in half crosswise; lay a strip over the top of each fanned-out potato. Top with Onion Onion (I’d say about 1 tsp. for a medium baker), Seasoned Salt and a few shakes of Italian Garlic Bread Seasoning. Seal the whole thing up in the foil and place it on the top rack of your grill. The key here is “low and slow” – I made these first and got them on my grill before I prepared anything else. I rotated them about every 15 minutes for about an hour.
The amounts here are extremely flexible, depending on how many you are serving, how much you like grilled veggies, how hungry you are, etc. I’ll give you a basic guide, but this particular recipe is pretty much gonna work no matter what or how much you have in it.
4 cups assorted veggies, cut into chunks
- I used bell peppers and mushrooms this time, but I’ve also made it with broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus (yum!), parboiled potatoes and/or carrots, onions, eggplant, Brussels sprouts … practically any veggie will work.
2-4 Tbsp. Balsamic & Basil Dipping Oil
- Start with 2 Tbsp., then stir everything up and see how it looks. You want a light coating of oil on pretty much everything. Some veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower, have nooks and crannies, so it takes a little more oil to get that nice coating. Honestly, you can just eyeball it.
Scant tsp. Seasoned Salt or to taste
Place veggies in a shallow pan. Drizzle with Balsamic & Basil Dipping Oil. Gently toss the veggies to coat; add a little more oil if you need to. Add the Seasoned Salt and stir again. Let marinate for 10 minutes to an hour, stirring a few times so the veggies get good and marinated and the oil doesn’t all stay on the bottom of the pan. Grill in a mesh basket over direct heat a little hotter than low. Let the veggies get nice and browned before you flip them. (Our grill is small, so we did this in two batches.) Cook until the veggies are browned to your liking and tender.
Potato Packets & Marinated Veggies
For the Potato Packets:
- Preheat the grill while you prep these, and don’t prep them early as the potatoes will discolor (quite unattractively … trust me on this one).
- Try not to cut them too thick, or the cook time will increase and you risk burning the bacon.
- I usually add a very light sprinkling of salt, because I have been known to get a bit heavy handed and over salt them. Remember that bacon and Onion Onion both contain salt.
- Remember, the secret to success is cooking them “low and slow”… and remember to turn them at least a couple of times, or again, you risk burning the bacon.
- This is one of my family’s favorite things in the whole wide world. We have made them many, many times.
For the Marinated Veggies:
- If you like mushrooms, I highly recommend that you include them in your mix … mushrooms are divine when grilled in this marinade. Oh, my stars.
- I cut the veggies in chunks, usually 1-1½ inches. Otherwise it’s difficult to manage them on the grill. I cut denser veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower thin, but not in tiny pieces. Remember that everything will shrink a little on the grill.
- The reason you coat the veggies with the oil first and then add the salt is that the salt will distribute more evenly if the veggies are oiled first.
- Honestly, there is not much more to say. This recipe is so easy and delicious! It’s another family favorite that we make all summer long.