Quick and Simple Broccoli Packets

or have your vegetables and grill them too, easy Summer sides

Rain or shine, Spring has sprung here in our happy little suburb of Detroit.  Farmers' Markets are in full bloom and the vegetable plants are in abundance, now we just have to wait for them to grow... patience is not one of my virtues.  But, lucky for me, some local farmers understand my predicament and use greenhouses to get fresh veggies to eager shoppers earlier then Mother Nature had planned (which it seems this year would have been August with the way these temperatures have been going).  So I gratefully run up to the market every Sunday to get my hands on the farm fresh produce that I crave.  I never would have thought that vegetables would be something I craved, I have been a meat and potatoes kind of girl since childhood, but the Farmers' Markets have changed all that - it just tastes better when it hasn't been spending the past few weeks or months being shuffled around in bulk boxes and sitting in stores.

The problem I generally run into in the warmer weather, should it choose to come this year, is balancing cooking on the grill and prepping side dishes indoors.  I have long been a fan of "potato packets" and we do prepare those on a regular basis on the grill, but I really wanted to get other veggies in on the fun.  So what was the logical conclusion?  Packet them up too!  It works beautifully once you have the timing down, they cook a fair amount faster then the traditional potato variety of packets, and are more sensitive to cooking temperatures as well.  But once you work out the kinks with your grill and timing the main dishes, it is an easy and delicious way to add a bit more variety to cookouts.  And who could resist the preset servings?  The individual packets add a bit of fun for kids and are a great way to ensure that everyone gets their share of the grilled veggie goodness.  And ss long as you don't sop up all that lingering butter, it's a healthy way to add a fresh flavor to your Summer-time grill menu.  Check it out:

1 head of broccoli
Olive oil spray
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dried minced onion
House seasoning blend, salt and pepper

Hardware: aluminum foil

1. Pull out four 8 inch sections of aluminum foil and lay out in a line.  Spray the center of each with olive oil, this is where you'll be lining up the broccoli.

2. Cut the broccoli into bite sized pieces and set aside.  Cut each tablespoon of butter into quarters and set aside.

3. In each packet, first add 1/8 of the broccoli in a bottom layer.  Top with 1/4 of the butter, distributed evenly across the broccoli, and 1/2 tbsp dried minced onion.  Season lightly with the house or nature's seasoning blend. Next add another 1/8 of the broccoli to each, spray with olive oil, and top with 1/2 tbsp parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

4. Pull the two long sides together and fold down to seal and form a "tent" over the vegetables.  Roll the short ends in to seal the packet completely.  Crimp all seals by pinching to secure all ingredients inside, make sure there is some sealed in air space above the vegetable (remember the tent effect we created with the long sides, it helps prevent burning to a degree and helps with the steaming effect).

5. Grill over non-direct heat, if you have an upper rack on the grill that works great, for about 5-10 min with the top closed.  Time may be more or less depending on how hot your grill is so you may want to experiment a bit.  Larger packets can cook longer.  Be very careful opening the packets as a lot of steam will come out at first, if serving to kids you'll want to do this part for them (or at least vent it enough to let the steam escape first).

Bonus - these can be made in advance and stored in the fridge until guests arrive.  This can also be done with green beans, zucchini, and of course potatoes (one of my personal favorites).  I have not yet experimented with other veggies but have every intention to this Summer, if you find some other ones that thrive in these packets I'd love to hear about it!  So go fire up your grill and let the fun begin, enjoy!

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