With the kids back in school, we are now teetering between the lazy days of summer and the impending promise of cooler air and the desire to fire down the grill and turn on the oven instead.
This is the perfect time to talk about one of my favorite shoulder-season cooking strategies: the foil pack. Place thinly sliced veggies with a little marinade or vinaigrette in a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fold shut into a packet, pinching the edges, and this handy little guy will be equally delicious whether cooked on the grill if you have a hot fall day or in the oven if you're already in pumpkin latte weather.
Add some fish or chicken and you'll have a full meal, all packaged and pretty in individual servings, a presentation that thrills dinner party guests and kiddos alike. Foil packet cooking is healthy — little fat is needed to accomplish tender, flavorful results.
And, packet cookery is incredibly forgiving — you (almost) can't overcook a foil packet. A few minutes extra in the oven won't ruin packet fish like it would dry out a fillet cooked on the stovetop, grill or even just roasted directly in the oven. As a mom of four, I appreciate that kind of weeknight-meal flexibility.
Try my Foil-Pack Fish Tacos to master some of the basics, like layering the ingredients in order of how quickly they cook — the bottom will cook more quickly since it will be touching a direct heat source.
Fish tacos are an excellent summertime favorite to take with us into cooler weather. I love using Alaskan cod because not only is it full of healthy fats, which feed the brain and heart, but it's available frozen year-round. And these packets do great with frozen fish — no need to thaw before making. Happy fall indeed.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."