Parchment Paper Pesto Fish

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My mom cooked nightly when I was growing up. I think we maybe had takeout 10 times a year. She had her go-to meals and our regular favorites, but occasionally she brought out the big guns cookbooks and served up something exquisite and fancy. I vividly remember the day she made fillets of sole in parchment paper - flaky, buttery, and dainty. I thought about that meal when I came across this recipe and wanted to try the parchment paper preparation myself.

Just so we start off with a pretty picture, here's what went on top of the fish:

I went with tilapia because it was markedly cheaper than halibut. You top the fish with pesto sauce (store bought or re-used shiso pesto with a bunch of fresh basil zapped into the fray) and shredded carrots and zucchini. I went with yellow squash instead because the pesto was green enough and I like eating multi-colored foods.

I folded sheets of parchment paper in half and placed the fish along the fold. I didn't know why this was the instruction at the time, but having now cooked this dish, it's basically one less seam to have to crinkle. The recipe calls for us to "follow directions for heart-shaped parchment package below" and then... never explains that. So, I went with a kind of oblong-ish whatever that in no way looked like a heart. I was, as they say, winging it.

But it looked right! I made a bunch of little folds to seal the edges of the parchment paper together. They seemed sturdy when I moved them from my prep space to the cooking sheet so my confidence increased.

I also cut the recipe in half - I only made two fillets instead of four, and I skipped the extra olive oil and tablespoon of wine. I figured there was enough moisture in the vegetables and enough oil in the pesto to do the trick.

I cooked the two packets at 450° for 15 minutes or so. I then panicked because I couldn't count on my trusty meat thermometer to tell me if the fish was done or not. The packets themselves looked quite browned so I opened one up.

Perfection. The fish steamed perfectly with the barest trace of crispy edges. The pesto was spicy and fresh and the shredded vegetables added a sweet pop. I threw on a basil leaf for prettiness and served them up.

Paired with a fresh garden salad, this was a light but extremely satisfying dinner. It came together in less than 30 minutes and, since I used a very inexpensive type of fish, was fancy-looking and fancy-tasting on the cheap. I will certainly be trying more parchment paper recipes in the future - do you have any to recommend?

1 comment:

  1. The first thing I thought when I read this post is This Is What The Princess Kate Made For Her Husband On Their First Married Valentine's Day.

    The idea of cooking anything in parchment terrifies me, but what a fancy little dish you have plated up! I am a fan.


You can be sweet or spicy, but no sour grapes.

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