When I was a Girl Scout my very favorite thing to make at cookouts was a foil dinner. Our 10-year old version of this gourmet delight started, quite obviously, with a square of foil. On top of the foil we’d put a bit of ground beef, some canned, sliced potatoes, and a few slices of carrots (also from a can). That’s it. No seasoning, no more veggies. We’d seal the packet up, place it on top of the coals from our campfire, and later (it always seemed to take much longer than expected) we’d have what we thought of as a real yummy dinner.
Looking back, I can see a number of reasons why our troop leaders liked this meal. First, it didn’t require any pots or pans. Second, it didn’t require any chopping or cutting with potentially dangerous sharp knives. Finally, the cans didn’t require any refrigeration.
My second favorite Girl Scout cookout meal also involved foil. This was what we called “peach toast,” and was a regular for our cookout breakfasts. On top of a piece of foil we’d put one buttered slice of bread (at age 10, it was definitely white bread). On top of the bread we’d add some slices of canned peaches and a bit of brown sugar. Once again, the sealed packet would be placed on the campfire coals. Looking back, it seems that if must have been pretty soggy, but I loved it then.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I’m always looking for new, simple ways to cook fish, and this recipe definitely caught my attention. Best of all, it was cooked in foil! The article labels the recipe a template for cooking fish, and it’s already turning into one for me. The first time I used it, I made it pretty much the way the article suggests. I put some baby spinach on the bottom of a square of foil and topped it with a tilapia fillet. I squeezed a bunch of fresh lemon juice and a bit of olive oil over the fish, and also added some salt and pepper. I added some grape tomatoes around the fish, and topped it with some fresh thyme (first time I ever used fresh thyme). I ended up cooking it for about 20 minutes, and it was just delicious!
The next night I did basically the same thing with another tilapia fillet. But this time I added some julienned zucchini. The addition of an extra vegetable made it even better than the first try.
The third time I used the template I tried foil-cooked salmon. Back in February I wrote here that I was looking for a few good salmon recipes. I tried many of the ones you suggested, and they’re delicious! Well my experiment with foil-cooked salmon was also a success. I swapped some sliced carrots for the grape tomatoes, and used fresh dill instead of fresh thyme. Everything else was the same. Once again, simple, no mess, and very tasty.
I’m now trying to think of other vegetable/fish combinations that I can make in foil. I’m also thinking of buying a slightly larger, newer toaster oven. My current one is too small for making anything but toast and bagels; it’s also looking a bit worn. A new toaster oven would let me make foil-cooked fish in the summer months, when I hate to heat up my oven.
A friend suggested that I could do basically the same thing with parchment paper. I’ve cooked with parchment paper before in my microwave, but have never used it in the oven. And somehow, using foil brings back all those nice Girl Scout memories.
Do you ever cook fish in foil? What are your favorite ways to cook it? And any suggestions for future variations on the “template” recipe?