Roasted vegetables in parchment paper pockets is an elegant, yet simple cooking method that intensifies the inherent tastiness of the vegetables inside.
Imagine, warm, dry oven heat surrounds your vegetables, releasing moisture and steam that bastes the veggies. Their juices surround the chopped morsels and mingle with olive oil and butter to caramelize golden brown. How would that taste?
With your butternut squash and leeks snugly contained inside a sealed parchment pocket, none of the their flavorful juices are lost due to evaporation. No other method can accomplish this in the same way.
The addition of butter produces a delightful bit of caramelization on the bottom of the bake, which adds volumes to the flavor and aroma of this dish.
Further, the fresh sage leaves transform into delicate, crispy bites, which is a rare treat indeed.
You can easily personalize this dish with your own flavors, such as by adding red chili flakes, or any other fresh herbs you have on hand, such as parsley or oregano.
The Inventor Of Roasted Vegetables In Parchment
This recipe is the brainchild of two—yes two—illustrious American female chefs.
This version of the recipe, with butternut squash and leeks, was published in “The Greens Cookbook,” a 1987 classic vegetarian cookbook by chef Deborah Madison.
All I did to this classic was to add extra garlic and more of the yummy sage leaves. I also doubled the recipe so we could enjoy more of it.
"The Greens Cookbook" celebrates the cuisine of the San Francisco Bay-area restaurant Greens Restaurant.
I have had the pleasure of eating there, and it was the most refined vegetarian dining experience of my life. Just like fine dining, only veggie-style.
However, according to Madison, the idea for roasted vegetables in parchment paper originated with Alice Waters, who is arguably one of the most well-known cooks in America.
Waters is the celebrated chef and local food activist who founded Chez Panisse, one of this country's first farm-to-table restaurants.
Waters served new potatoes and whole cloves of garlic baked in this parchment style.
I just love Madison’s description of what Waters told her it was like to serve roasted vegetables in parchment to her guests at the restaurant:
“The crackling sounds and aromatic smells that come from opening the packages, and the pleasure of putting together different tastes and textures, always seem to lift people’s spirits.”
Make It A Complete Meal!
It is true that the scent of these vegetables is intoxicating, but eating the final product is just as pleasurable.
I recommend enjoying it with mashed potatoes mixed with celeriac or turnip.
To complete the meal, you could also try having roasted vegetables in parchment with some savory tofu, or a curried bean or lentil stew.
You may even like to have two combinations of vegetables baked this way on the same plate.
See my recipe for Fennel and White Onion baked in parchment for more ideas of what you can bake inside of parchment.
Recipe For Butternut Squash And Leeks Baked In Parchment
- 1 cup butternut squash, cut into ⅓-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup leeks, chopped into ½-inch squares
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Himalayan pink salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 piece parchment paper, about 15 x 15 inches
- 2 teaspoons butter, plus extra for greasing the parchment
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl, with the exception of the sage and butter. Add salt and pepper to your taste.
- Fold the parchment paper in half and make a crease. Generously butter the bottom half of the parchment, leaving an inch from the edge clean.
- Heap the prepared vegetables in the center of the buttered area, and tuck in the sage leaves. Dot with a few small pieces of butter.
- Fold the top half of the paper down and tightly fold and roll up the two halves together to form a seal. Now fold and roll the outside edges of the paper inward until everything is sealed into a pocket. It will look rustic, and this is exactly the fun of it, so don't worry. Just get it sealed.
- Place the packet on a baking tray and bake for approximately 25 minutes. The packet will begin to brown, and once you see this you will know that the roasted vegetables are ready.
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