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fish en papillote: a fancy name for a simple dish

You might remember this picture from my post about fiddlehead ferns back in June. The original recipe calls for halibut, but it is expensive and can be hard to find, so we substitute salmon. It also calls for commercial pesto, which is certainly a fine substitute on occasion for the real deal. But since it’s summer and we have plenty in our pot o’ herbs, I’ve been making my own pesto and freezing the leftovers. It really couldn’t be simpler, and it’s one of those recipes that’s tough to mess up. In what is perhaps a foregone conclusion for those of you who follow my recipe posts, I use Ina Garten’s recipe for pesto, although if I have to listen to her again tell me to use “good” olive oil and “good” mayonnaise, I might stop watching altogether. As if my tendency was to buy the crappiest stuff, but since you mentioned it Ina, I will get the “good” stuff. Sorry for the rant.

Below are my adaptations of the two recipes, first for the fish and then for the pesto.

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parchment-baked pesto salmon
serves 4

4 (12- x 18-inch) heart-shaped sheets of parchment paper
Cooking spray (we use an olive oil pump sprayer)
4 salmon fillets
1/4 c. pesto (see recipe below)
1 c. julienned carrots (2 medium)
1 cup julienned zucchini (1 small)
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
4 tsp. olive oil
4 tsp. white wine

Preheat oven to 450degF. Unfold parchment heart and coat lightly with cooking spray, leaving a 2-inch border ungreased at edge. Place fillet on one side so that it touches the fold. Spread 1 Tbs. pesto over fillet. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. carrot, 1/4 c. zucchini, and a fourth of salt and pepper. Drizzle fillet with 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp wine.

Fold paper and crinkle edges to make a seal. Place packets on sheet pans. Bake at 450° for 7 min. or until lightly browned. Open packets (watch out for steam!) and transfer the fillets with their vegetable topping to plates; pour juices over top.


1/2 c. walnuts
3 Tbs. minced garlic
5 c. fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. olive oil
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese