Adhering to your resolution to eat a more healthful diet this year is in the bag when you master cooking en papillote, a classic French cooking method that sounds fussier than it really is.
En papillote translates to “in parchment.” When ingredients such as fish, seafood and vegetables are sealed in a parchment paper parcel with herbs or other seasonings, it creates an aromatic, moist heat where the protein cooks in it’s own juice and the juice from other ingredients. Very little fat is required. The method can also be used with other proteins, but fish and seafood are most commonly used.
Parchment paper is generally used, however aluminum foil will also work. Fold a large piece of parchment in half, then cut to form a heart-shape (which is the classic shape). A simple circle also works or be creative and fold to form a square, rectangle or triangle.
Once you’ve placed your ingredients on the parchment paper, the packet needs to be thoroughly sealed by folding. Starting at one end, make small folds along the edge every 1/2-inch to 1-inch, working your way all around the perimeter.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until the parcel has puffed from the steam inside. Transfer to a plate and then carefully cut into the packet, being careful and aware that hot steam will escape.
This Mediterranean fish en papillote has all the classic flavors of the sunny region with tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, wine and lemon.
I used grouper here, however any white fish such as cod, flounder or halibut will also work. Serve with simply roasted potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.
2 (6-ounce) grouper fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Thin slices of red onion, to taste
Thin slices of red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 lemon slices
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut two 18-inch long pieces of parchment paper. Fold in half then cut a half-circle or heart-shape. Open flat and place on a baking sheet.
Wash fish fillets and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and black pepper.
Place a fish fillet on the right side of the parchment paper. Top each fillet with equal amounts of tomatoes, olives, capers, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, white wine, red pepper flakes. Top each fillet with a lemon slice.
Place left half of parchment paper over fish and seal the edge, making small folds every 1/2-inch to 1-inch all the way around until completely sealed.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until parchment paper has puffed up and fish is cooked. Transfer to a plate and with scissors, cut into the top of the packet, being careful and aware of the hot steam that will escape.