Fall Foiled Dinner


I had a bee in my bonnet to grill fish one night last week, but the market was out of my grill go-tos of tuna and halibut, and we had just eaten salmon, my other standby.

The fishmonger assured me that the rockfish, aka striped bass, was fresh that day, but would need foil to be grilled without falling apart. I decided to give it a try, and once I got the foil frenzy going, there was no stopping me.

I had some fresh local apples and delicata squash from the Sunday farmers market, and I suspected they would behave well on the grill if properly foiled, seasoned and timed. That was indeed the case.

If you can’t find delicata squash, try using small butternuts, acorn or any winter squash. In terms of timing this meal, put the squash and the apples on the grill about 30 minutes before you wish to eat; time the fish accordingly.

And if you don’t want to grill this meal, simply cook it in the oven at 400 degrees. Foil packets save a whole lot of dishwashing.

Foil-Grilled Striped Bass with Tomato Olive Tapenade

Serves four

Tomatoes are still available in most markets, but we are, sadly, drawing to the end of their season. This is a great way to use tomatoes that may be slightly past their prime or less than optimal in texture as fall sets in and their season closes until next year.

Any flaky white fish is suitable for this dish — cod, haddock, snapper, hake, fluke or flounder. Note: My fillets were about an inch thick and cooked for about 18 minutes; if you use very thin fillets, like flounder, reduce the cooking time to about 8-10 minutes.

  • 1½ pounds striped bass fillet
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • ⅓ cup black, pitted, oil-cured olives, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

Cut the fish into four serving pieces and place each fillet on a double-thickness or heavy-duty piece of foil large enough to wrap and cover the fish in a bundle. Leave about 2 inches of space at the top where you roll and seal the packet.

Dot the fillets with butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives and crushed garlic, and pour the mixture evenly over each fillet. Seal the packets.

Place the packets on a medium-hot grill and cook for about 18 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fish. Check after 14 minutes by poking the fish with a fork; if it flakes easily and is opaque throughout, it is done. Note: Take care when opening packets to avoid being burned by the steam.

Serve immediately.

Autumn Grilled Squash

Serves four

This dish tastes like fall. The thyme hints of Thanksgiving, and the apple cider vinegar blends with the honey to evoke all things autumn. Delicata squash are about 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter, so they cook relatively quickly for a winter squash; if you have larger squash, either cut them smaller or extend the cooking time. It is important to leave a “well” in each piece so the seasonings stay put and infuse the vegetable.

  • 2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper

Place each squash half in double-thickness or heavy- duty foil large enough to cover the vegetable, and when it is wrapped and sealed shut, you should have about 2 inches of space at the top.

Sprinkle each half with equal amounts of vinegar, honey and seasonings.

Seal the packets and place on a grill at medium heat away from direct flame and cook for about 30 minutes. Test for doneness by pricking with a fork; the squash is done when totally soft throughout. Note: Use caution when opening the packets to avoid steam burns.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Grill-baked Apples

Serves four

These taste like the inside of an apple pie without all the work. Serve them on their own or top them with ice cream, whipped cream, crumbled cookies, raisins, nuts, granola or caramel.

  • 4 large apples (any variety)
  • Spritz of lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Cut the apples in half and remove the cores and seeds. This should leave a “well” in each half.

Place two halves on double- thickness or heavy-duty foil large enough to hold both with space at the top of packet when sealed. Spritz with lemon juice.

Place a half tablespoon of butter in each well along with equal amounts of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Close the foil packets and place the apples on a medium-hot grill away from direct heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Check for doneness by poking gently with fork; they should be soft throughout. Note: Use caution when opening the packets to avoid steam burns


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