If you’ve never cooked fish in a parchment pack (or en papillote, as the French say), you have to try it. Cooking doesn’t get much easier, and this meal is healthy and tasty with easy prep and cleanup. The method also turns out perfectly cooked fish every single time.
I especially love that you can easily assemble this dish ahead of time, and then pop the packets into the oven whenever you are ready. Plus, with the dish’s fancy French name, I always feel extra special when I serve it to guests and cut open the parchment pack right at the table. The steam rises dramatically out of the pack, revealing a delicious meal right in front of them.
Everyone gets his or her own little parchment present, and no matter how old you are, presents are fun. Nobody would ever guess that you whipped up such a gourmet dinner in less than 30 minutes.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
2 medium-size zucchini, thinly sliced
¼ cup garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced, plus more for garnishing
24 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons sherry cooking wine
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets, skinned and trimmed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat the halibut dry with a paper towel.
Cut four pieces of doubled-over parchment large enough to encase a fillet with an inch or so margin around it. I like cutting a heart shape for the packet. (Remember grade-school valentines?)
Divide the zucchini along one side of each parchment piece in thin layers. Sprinkle garlic and sliced basil over it, dividing equally. Scatter the tomato halves around the zucchini. Drizzle each packet with 1 tablespoon of wine and ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Place a fillet atop each portion. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle ½ tablespoon of olive oil over each.
Beginning at the wider part of the valentine, fold the paper over itself. As you move around the paper, you’ll end up at the pointed end of the heart, where you fold under.
Place the packets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the fish is just cooked through (a toothpick poked through the parchment will slide into fish easily), approximately 15 minutes.
Garnish with basil leaves. To serve, carefully cut open the packets (steam will escape).