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Recipes that call for a slew of ingredients and tools are great and all, but there’s something equally relieving about a recipe that’s to the point, quick to put together, and requires few miscellaneous items. 

Related Reading: Harness the Power of Canned Tomatoes with a Recipe for Fettuccine and Tomato-Butter Sauce

That’s the goal of “Dinner’s in the Bag,” a cookbook from recipe developer Louise Kenney who swaps excess mess for oven-proof bags. All the recipes in her book are centered around cooking in foil, baking with parchment, and oven-proof bags, fronting the method of en papillote as a reliable, low-mess technique for making dinner. En papillote, taken from French, means to cook in paper, where the ingredients get steamed in the oven. 

Dinner's in the Bag: 60 Easy Oven Recipes All Wrapped Up, $20.81 on Amazon

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In the book, Louise provides 60 recipes for vegetables, fish, meat, and even desserts. You can roast salmon fillets with potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes on parchment paper, slip pork belly with cannellini beans into an oven bag to caramelize, or slow cook peaches with plenty of amaretto and honey. All of the recipes are easy to follow, complete with low-stress prep and no mess.

300-Piece Parchment Paper Sheets, $17.99 on Amazon

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So next time you want to test out your new reusable oven bag or have a surplus of parchment paper, test out Louise’s recipe for Mediterranean vegetables with halloumi and herb oil. The vegetarian recipe brims with roasted zucchini, red onions, peppers, whole garlic cloves, and green olives, which are sealed in parchment and baked for 30 minutes. Once the vegetables start to get soft, slide in slabs of halloumi, roast, and top with a fresh herb oil, whisked with oregano and basil. After seeing firsthand how easy this method is, you’ll never want to cook any other way.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Dinner’s in the Bag by Louise Kenney, published by Quadrille February 2020, RRP $22.99 Hardcover.

Mediterranean Vegetables and Halloumi with Herb Oil Recipe

This is an easy, unfussy dish you can serve to friends when you’re too tired to cook. The garlic cloves are cooked in their skins – let people squeeze their own when serving rather than you doing it for them. You can throw in a can of drained chickpeas at the final stage of cooking if you want to bulk this dish up even more.

Mediterranean Vegetables and Halloumi with Herb Oil

Serves: 4
  • 2 medium courgettes (zucchini), thickly sliced
  • 2 red onions, cut into 1-cm (½ -in) wedges
  • 2 Romano peppers, tops and seeds removed, sliced into thick rings
  • 10 garlic cloves, skins on
  • 130g (generous 1 cup) pitted green olives
  • 4 sprigs of fresh oregano extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x 250-g (9-oz) block halloumi, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the herb oil
  • 1 small bunch of oregano, leaves only
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • Approximately 50ml (1 2/ 3 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan (425ºF/Gas 7). Line a baking dish with two sheets of parchment or foil.
  2. Pile the courgettes, onions, peppers, garlic cloves and olives into the lined baking dish and spread out in a thick-ish layer. Tuck in the oregano sprigs, drizzle over a good glug of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix and spread out again. Seal up the parcel (see pages 10–11), taking care to keep everything in an even layer, and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven, roll down the sides of the parchment, exposing all the vegetables, and add the halloumi slices in a single layer on top of the vegetables. Return to the oven, parchment open, for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the herb oil. Finely chop the oregano leaves and basil and add to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You may need more or less oil depending on the amounts of herbs you have. Ensure it’s runnier than pesto so that you can drizzle it easily.
  5. When the vegetables and halloumi have had their final cooking time, remove from the oven, and serve up with the herb oil drizzled over.

Header image by Ola Smit.

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