Steamed vegetables in parchment–in this case, asparagus and green beans–is a simple, easy, healthy way of cooking veggies. Simply wrap them up and slide them in the oven. No fuss. And, even better, no mess to clean up afterward.
Who couldn’t use a savvy, sophisticated, assemble ahead of time strategy for veggies? Simply tuck veggies in parchment paper and then casually slip them into the oven to cook untended. All that’s left is to watch as the packages are unwrapped at the table to a chorus of oohs and aahs. Suddenly those green beans or asparagus spears don’t seem quite so humdrum, eh?–David Leite
Steamed Vegetables in Parchment FAQs
Can I use different vegetables besides asparagus and green beans in my parchment packages?
Absolutely. Try swapping in baby bok choy, sugar snap peas, thinly sliced carrots, or whole scallions. You can vary the flavor of the vegetables by using herbs, lemongrass, or ginger in place of the lemon, too.
If you want to make a full meal from the parchment packet, go ahead a tuck in a fish fillet and some thinly sliced potatoes, but allow up to 30 minutes for everything to be cooked through.
Can I use wax paper for steaming the vegetables?
No, we don’t recommend it. Wax paper tears easily and can burn, resulting in leaks and a ruined meal. Stick with parchment paper.
Steamed Vegetables in Parchment
- 1/2 to 1 lemon very thinly sliced into 8 rounds
- 5 to 8 ounces green beans ends snapped off if desired
- 12 to 16 spears asparagus ends snapped off (preferably spears that are slightly thicker than the green beans)
- 1 tablespoon or so olive oil
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Cut four 12-inch squares of parchment paper (for a pretty effect) or aluminum foil (for a practical approach, if that's all you happen to have on hand). Divide the lemon slices among the squares of parchment, placing 2 slices in the center of each square. Top the lemon slices with the green beans and asparagus, divvying them evenly among the squares. Drizzle the veggies with a little oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Working with 1 square at a time, bring 2 opposite edges of the parchment paper together so they meet in the center above the vegetables. Fold the edges over several times and crease them to seal. Bring the remaining sides of the parchment over the center and repeat, folding each over itself several times and creasing to seal. Place the parchment parcels on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast the parchment parcels until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (There are several ways to tell if the veggies are done. You can guess. You can try to prod the vegetables through the parchment. Or you can carefully open one packet—this one will be yours—and cut through it with a sharp knife.)
- Place each parcel on a plate, instructing guests to carefully cut an "X" in the center of their packet with their knives and being wary of the steam that will escape. Serve…and bask in the applause.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These vegetable packets were so easy to assemble. They provide a no-fuss, elegant way to delightfully surprise your guests. I made them for my family, and they just loved the lemony, delicious veggies inside.
This is simplicity at its best. I loved the ease of its preparation, the beauty of its presentation, and how one could so very easily use this recipe as a starter for so many meals. The vegetables were nicely cooked—tender, yet still slightly crunchy. I modified the recipe a bit by using two small lemons, for a total of three lemon slices per package.
I’d forgotten how simple cooking in parchment is. Basically, this is springtime’s equivalent to winter roasting, and it allows for the lovely spring vegetables to shine. My rather skinny beans and asparagus cooked to crisp-tender in about 9 or 10 minutes, but I gave them 3 minutes more for a slightly softer version. No fuss, no pan to scrub. My kind of side dish.
This is a nice and simple way to steam vegetables, especially if you don’t have a stove-top steamer insert. Who doesn’t like receiving little individual packets at the dinner table? They’re like small presents! This recipe is perfect for spring, and as part of a weeknight meal, as it involves little fuss. TIP: Use asparagus that’s just a little thicker in diameter than the green beans; otherwise you run the risk of overcooking it.
I was looking for a lamb accompaniment and had all of these ingredients on hand. The packets were quick, simple, and delicious. I used parchment paper and cut an X into each packet right before serving. They made for a pretty presentation, and had a very nice taste.
These steamed vegetables in parchment are sophisticated and elegant—but only when made with parchment. The foil-wrapped option looked like it belonged at a camp-out. I used fairly regular-sized asparagus spears and green beans. Using these sizes, achieving the just-soft degree of doneness took longer than stated, about 20 minutes for the asparagus and 25 minutes for the green beans. (In foil, it took even longer.) When unwrapped, the packages looked pretty, but they were also tasty—the lemon flavor adjacent to the green vegetables really popped, and the salt, pepper, and olive oil combination created plenty of seasoning. The vegetables that touched the lemon while baking were the tastiest of all—but they did discolor slightly, which is another reason to serve them right in the wrapping. The idea of cooking vegetables for a dinner party and avoiding the stovetop is appealing, as is the ease of preparation involved—just assemble, bake, and serve!
Originally published March 29, 2011