delicious and virtuous

After a weekend of eating cheeseburgers, meatballs and fresh baked danish, I felt the need to curb my calorie count and try to get in a few more vegetables. This is especially true given the up-coming bevy of Hanukkah parties (read: over-consumption of fried potatoes) I will be attending this weekend. Something with less than two sticks of butter, fewer than twice my RDA of carbohydrates and preferably lacking any pork product. But also, something delicious, warm and satisfying.

fish en papillot

This recipe for fish fillets baked in parchment is so many things a good recipe should be: flexible, adaptable and beautiful. You can make it for two (as I did tonight) or for twenty (as I have for Passover in years past). Almost any fish fillet — salmon, halibut or flounder — works well and you can use whatever vegetables are knocking around your crisper. After a mere ten minutes in the oven, the moist and delicate fish combines with the pat of butter, lemon, wine and shallots to make a lovely sauce, which the vegetables seem to inhale. And the whole thing is so lovely, you’ll feel like it’s a special occasion, not a sacrifice.

Fish Fillets En Papillot

(Serves 2)

¾ lb flounder (or sole) fillets, about 4 hand-sized pieces
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons butter, divided
4 thin slices of lemon
2 tablespoons white wine, divided
1 carrot, julienned
1 small zucchini, julienned
6 asparagus spears, sliced into 1” pieces
2 sprigs of dill
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450º. Blanch asparagus (for 4 minutes) and carrots (for 2 minutes) in salted, boiling water. Drain and run under cold water. Cut two large pieces of parchment paper (about 10” long); fold paper in half and trim paper so it resembles an oval when un-folded.

Set one parchment paper oval on counter, un-folded. About 1” above the crease, place 1 teaspon of butter. Scatter with half the minced shallots. Top with two slices of lemon and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the wine. Place two fish fillets atop the lemon. Season fish liberally with salt and pepper. Scatter half the vegetables (asparagus, carrots and zucchini) over and around the fish. Top with sprig of dill.

Fish and Veg

Fold the bottom half of the parchment oval over the fish and vegetables. You will now have a half-moon in front of you. Starting at one end, make one 90º fold. Your next fold should be on a 45º angle. Continue around the semi-circle, making 45º angles, until you reach the end. The last angle should be 90º; tuck the corner under the last fold. Repeat with remaining packet.

Folding Parchment

Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes, depending upon thickness of fillets. Open packets and serve.

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