Steamed Vegetables in Parchment

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.

Two packets of steamed vegetables in parchment --asparagus and green beans--on a white plate

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? Originally published March 29, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Fancy Up Your Steamed Vegetables In Parchment

These parchment parcels function not just as a rote recipe but as a basic blueprint. Switch things up according to your fancy or your veggie bin. Here, a few ideas…

• Vary the vegetables, adding baby bok choy or sugar snaps or bean sprouts or thinly sliced carrots or whole scallions or, well, you get the idea.
• Slip in other aromatics in place of lemon, such as herbs, lemongrass, or a slice of ginger.
• Swap olive oil for a splash of white wine or sake, or maybe even a splash of soy sauce and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil.
• Strew the vegetables with other flavorings, like chopped olives or sesame seeds.
• Turn it from an easy-clean-up side to a no-clean-up meal by adding a fish fillet and maybe some thinly sliced potatoes. (Allow up to 30 minutes or so for cooking.)

Steamed Vegetables in Parchment

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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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.

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    • We prefer to use unbleached parchment paper, the kind that’s white rather than brown, to ensure the parcels portray a pretty aesthetic. But by all means, suit yourself or whatever you happen to have hanging around in the kitchen.

    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 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!


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    1. Question: would microwave work as well? or, is there something about oven heat that enhances flavor even when food is sealed…Thank you. (Less costly than heating an electric oven for 20+ minutes)

    2. Wow. Yah, this is one of my favorite food places on the web. Just enough emails, not too in your face, and David is likeable and wrote a great cookbook.

      I tried the parchment paper tonight with great success. Trout with lemon and walnuts in the one and a mix of veggies in the other, with rosemary potatoes unbagged and lonely on the tray. Very nice–and one could make it in the morning, refrigerate, and pop in the oven at dinner time easy peasy. Pics here.

    3. What a great presentation, loved it. I haven’t made anything using this method but I am planning to try it this weekend. It looks so easy, and I like having so many options to try. Wish me luck.

    4. Remembered and used the foil packets version of this to try to dazzle the in-laws at a family bonfire at the beach last weekend. Made up packages of a spiced-up shrimp concoction I’ve been playing with, some thickish salmon fillets w/ butter & fresh dill, corn on the cob w/ peppered butter & lime slices, and, finally, a batch of cherry tomatoes to see what would happen. Remembered to bring long kitchen tongs to move stuff around in the fire. Bonfires cook really hot and frankly, I got lucky with the timing. It was pretty neat & very tasty, so thanks, David, for a great idea. Managed to mildly dazzle a very tough crowd. I guess this means they’ll let me live…

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