Jun 29, 2012

Halibut, Tomatoes, Squash and Basil Baked in Parchment Packet

All week we’ve been savoring on what I think might have creeped up as my second favorite chocolate bar dessert EVER! I’ll be sharing that real soon but thought before we indulge I’d share another quick dinner packed full of fresh flavors and ingredients AND where the oven does all of the work. Plus, I thought that with how popular some of my other fish dishes have been it was about time to add another one for some variety. I know fish might be an odd thing to be thinking about with the upcoming holiday weekend being focused on hotdogs, hamburgers, and any other all-american cookout food, but let’s face it, you’re going to need a light meal before, after, or both! Fish is one of my favorite things for those kind of nights where I’m not completely in the mood for an all vegetarian meal but I’m also not craving the poultry either. Boom! You end up in the middle with fish!

Here’s what you’ll need!


(Adapted from Bon Appetit. Serves 2)

  • 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash
  • 1/2 large shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 6 oz. halibut fillets

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

While the meal is relatively fast, your slicing skills will be put to the test! Start by slicing the zucchini, yellow squash, shallot, cherry tomatoes and the basil. You want to make things thin so that it can all cook evenly in the oven.

If you’re a little overly obsessive about being organized like me, you can also go ahead and divide the vegetables for each packet! Even steven!

Take a large baking sheet and cover it with tinfoil. Lay out two large pieces of parchment paper and arrange your sliced veggies in an oval shape on the paper. You don’t want to make it too wide but also don’t go too close to the edges so that you can fold up the paper into a packet shape at the end. I started with the squash on the bottom, the scallion and basil scattered on top of those and then the tomatoes arranged around the border. Your order, arrangement, or design is completely up to you! With the veggies added, drizzle a 1/2 tablespoon of the wine and olive oil over each veggie pile. (For the wine, I follow Ina Garten’s advice and use a wine that I also enjoy drinking of glass of while cooking!) Add a little salt and pepper to the veggies.

It’s time for the fish to join the packet! Add a halibut fillet on top of each veggie pile and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Fold the parchment paper over the mixture, crimp the edges tight or fold them under. I went with the folded under tactic but the important part is not in the exact fold but just that your packet is sealed tight!

Put the sealed packets on the baking sheet and let bake from between 10-30 minutes. I know that sounds like a crazy time range and it is. But I have to admit that this is where the recipe in the Bon Appetit magazine failed me a little bit. They said that at 400 degrees, my fish should be done in 10 minutes! Sounds fantastic, right! Well, perhaps my oven had a mind of its own that night (usually my cooking times work out just fine) but I just could not get my fish done anywhere close to 10 minutes. So we ended having to wait almost 30 minutes. The trick to telling if the fish was done without opening the packet was to stick a toothpick into the top and it should slide easily through the fish. Not only did that not happen at the 10 minute mark but it also came out cold! So, start checking these at around 10 minutes and just let them go for as long as they need. If you become crunched for time, you can also undo the packet and let them broil for a few minutes. The paper will get toasty but your fish will be cooked through!

Once everything is cooked, you can serve it in the packet or you can slide it out onto the plate.

You could certainly eat this with just the fish, squash and tomatoes but I had a taste for little red roasted potatoes. I just cubed those, tossed them with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary and baked them at the same temperature as the fish on a foil-lined baking sheet. They typically take 25-30 minutes depending on the size you cut the potatoes.

So minus the cooking time confusion, this dish was a hit and it will certainly make another appearance on the dinner table before summer ends! I love meals where everything can cook in one baking dish, one pot, or in this case, one sheet of paper! Not only does it simplify things for me (and dishes for Jor) but it allows all the flavors to really come together and compliment one another. Here, the fish was moist from the little bit of wine and the basil brightened the whole dish up for me! Plus, who doesn’t like their meal served in a cute little packet! It can be the perfect thing to serve at a dinner party or it can add a little fancy to your otherwise typical day! For now, that’s halibut, tomatoes, squash and basil baked in a parchment packet…in the shell of a nut!


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