May 6, 2014

Lemon Basil Salmon Baked in Parchment

salmon cooked 3

Two of the most popular posts on here have been my one pan tilapia with fennel and tomatoes and my tilapia with spaghetti squash and potatoes. Tilapia usually makes an appearance for our dinner once a week because it is so easy to cook, it’s mild enough to take on many flavors and combos, it’s fast and it’s also a nice break from chicken. Perhaps it’s because Cinco de Mayo just passed and I have tacos on the mind, but tilapia is the perfect fish for fish tacos! But, as much as I love tilapia, I’m also a huge fan of salmon and how versatile it is. Jor prefers the white fishes but lucky for us Whole Foods makes the perfect solution for us! I’m able to get a single fillet of salmon and a single fillet of sea bass or halibut for him and usually I can prepare both in similar ways, not complicating the dinner one bit! Not only has Whole Foods solved our different tastes in fish predicament but they also solved my never ending issues with cooking fish in parchment paper. I always start off with high hopes for it but it always ends with me having to cut into the parchment only to find out the fish is not done. Disappointing every time! I’ve now cooked our fish using this new method a few times and it has been completely foul proof! You’ve got to try it!

Here’s what you need:


(Serves 2 dinner portions.)

  • 1 6 oz salmon fillet (or two if both prefer salmon)
  • 1 6 oz sea bass fillet
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • parchment paper and kitchen twine

The most important step in cooking the fish is preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and putting a baking sheet in the oven when you do this. You want the baking sheet to already be hot when you put the fish in the oven and I think this is the trick that has solved all my problems! I’ve never had any trouble, but you can also line the baking sheet with tin foil if you are worried about the fish leaking when you’re baking. Just ensures easy clean up.

There is minimal prep work for the fish. Tear off two pieces of parchment paper (1 per fish fillet) large enough to gather up above and around the fillet. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and drizzle with a touch of olive oil. Cut two to three slits into each fillet, making sure not to cut all the way through the fish. You are making pockets for your basil. Roll each basil leaf into a log and wedge it into the slits you just made into the fillet.

Salmon pre-baked 2

Slice the lemon thinly and add two to three slices on the top of each fillet.

Salmon Pre baked w/ lemon

Like I said, this works great with a white fish, too!

Sea Bass with lemon basil

That’s all the toppings for the fish. Now carefully fold up the sides of the parchment paper and cinch the paper together above the fish. Use the kitchen twine to secure the paper. It should look like a little beggars purse and creates the perfect steam capsule for the fish.

salmon in parchment

Take the heated baking sheet out of the oven and place the parchment pouches on the pan. Let the fish cook for 20 minutes, after which you will have perfectly cooked lemon, basil fish fillets!

salmon cooked

You can pair your favorite sides with the fish but on this particular night I went with roasted potatoes (again, easy clean up) and a quick vegetable sauté of cherry tomatoes, asparagus and zucchini.

salmon cooked 2

We’re huge fans of fish, but it’s also so easy and fast to cook that it inevitably makes its way onto our weekly menu for those nights that we need dinner to come together quickly. It also feels lighter and is a great compromise for the nights that we aren’t feeling an all veggie meal but also don’t want chicken. And for me, I also love how much protein, and lean protein specifically, that I can get from fish. In salmon especially, those omega 3 fatty acids they always talk about are perfect for my heavy mileage weeks with running when I need some extra calories without eating double dessert. Although, let’s not lie, sometimes I’d rather go for double the dessert than health fish but who wouldn’t! For now, that’s lemon basil salmon baked in parchment…in the shell of a nut!

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