This recipe is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen and introduce them to fish if you’re looking to incorporate in your meals!
I’ve learned that children like to interact with their food or eat it in different ways and with this technique, everyone gets their own little pouch! How fun is that!?
Once the technique is down, it can be customized to switch out protein, veggies and flavors to appeal to any audience.
Personally, both of my kids love the flavor of lemon and capers – so this works for us. Fish is also great for little ones who may not be ready to chew solid cuts of meat – so Annie can easily feed herself! That means I can actually relax a bit during dinner so I’m not constantly cutting food for her!
Fish in parchment (en papillote) is a classic technique where food is wrapped in parchment and baked. The result is an aromatic little steam bath for food that leaves it tender and flavorful.
It looks fancy, but really is super easy, can be made ahead and is cooked within 10 minutes. Perfect plan ahead meal that will feel like a treat!
Below, I will walk you through the steps with pictures since this one can be hard to visualize!
First, get four sheets of parchment paper (the pre-cut ones are the best) and fold them in half. Cut each so that when you open it, it creates a heart (think Valentine’s Day arts and crafts!) This is a great time to get your children involved! They do not need to be perfect to get the job done!
Then, thinly slice all of your vegetables. I’m using red bell peppers, super thin yellow onion and zoodles that were pre-made from Trader Joes. The sky is the limit here. You can do asparagus, green beans, snap peas, sweet potato, carrot or squash noodles. The key is to make sure the veggies will cook in about the same time.
Toss the vegetables with olive or avocado oil, salt, the red pepper flakes (can omit if you think it’s too spicy), capers and roasted garlic and herb butter from Trader Joes – or just butter with garlic powder and dried herbs – like thyme, parsley, oregano, etc… They should taste good – you will not have a chance to season them once they are all packaged up!
Next, lay the vegetables about 1 inch right of the center of the heart.
Then top with a fish filet – halibut or cod work well. Salmon is always a hit for us – Even a a chicken cutlet works – if fish isn’t your thing! Customize for your family’s tastes!
Put a little bit (about 1/4-1/2 tsp.) of caper brine and a lemon slice on top of fish/chicken. Again, customize to flavor preferences here! Think about the flavor of the steam bath you want your food to take on!
Now comes the fun part – making the packages!
Fold parchment heart in half to cover the fish and vegetables and fold edges over kind of like a pie crust. Make overlapping little folds starting at one end and working toward the other. Create a tight seal around the food – leaving enough space to allow air and steam to circulate.
Create a tight seal around the food – leaving enough space to allow air and steam to circulate. If parchment is intimidating (or you don’t feel like messing with it), you can also lay the parchment over a sheet of aluminum foil (so the food isn’t touching the foil) and create the seal with the foil!
Place packages on a rimmed baking sheet. You can STOP here and refrigerate if planning ahead. I’ve done this in the morning and they are ready to go right in the oven when I get home from work!
Cook for 8-9 minutes (for fish) or about 12 minutes for chicken cutlets (about 1 inch thick) and you’re finished!
Plate each of the packages as is and allow each person to slice open their own – do this step for the little ones! It’s fun to eat from your own little pouch! Combine this meal with a clean starch like a baked potato, quinoa, white rice and you’re all set!
Fish and Vegetables in Paper
A fancy but fun and easy way to incorporate fish into your family's weeknight dinners! - everyone gets their own little present!
- 4 – 1 inch thick fish filets, halibut, cod, salmon (even chicken cutlets work!)
- 1 bell pepper, julienned or thinly sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, julienned or 2 cups of zoodles
- 1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. avocado oil or light tasting olive oil
- 2 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic and Herb Butter, divided (or 2 tbsp butter and 1/4 tsp. each of garlic powder, dried thyme, dried oregano and dried parsley
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided (optional)
- 3 tbsp. capers
- 4 slices of lemon
- other vegetables options include, asparagus (chop to about 4 inches), butternut squash spirals, snap peas, snow peas, mushrooms, carrot noodles, etc…)
- PLAN AHEAD: 1) julienne/thinly slice vegetables; and if assembling ahead of time complete steps 1 through 8 and refrigerate until ready to cook!
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Make your hearts. Take parchment baking sheet and fold in half. Using scissors, cut parchment so that it forms a heart when unfolded. Lay each heart open on flat surface.
- In a medium bowl, toss julienned vegetables with capers, oil, herb butter (or herbs and butter) and salt. Taste them. They should taste good. If not, add more seasoning.
- Divide vegetables evenly among parchment hearts – about an inch right of center.
- Top each vegetable pile with a filet and spoon about 1/4-1/2 tsp. of caper brine on top and top with lemon slice.
- Fold parchment heart in half. Working from one end of the parchment, create overlapping folds (as seen above) along the open edge toward the other end. Create a tight seal and twist off last edge. (You can also put a sheet of parchment on top of a slightly larger sheet of aluminum foil (so food is not touching foil) and seal the foil into a pouch – this can be easier to work with than the parchment!)
- Place each little package on a rimmed baking sheet.
- STOP HERE and refrigerate if part of your Plan Ahead (PA)
- Cook packages for 8-9 minutes. About 12 minutes if using chicken cutlet.
- Serve immediately – slicing down center of the pouch to allow steam to escape and serve as is in packet with a clean, easy side dish like quinoa, sweet potato or rice with butter for a complete meal!
Presentation is key! Act excited and maybe your kids will be too! It’s like a little present waiting for them to open!