The past two days have brought a never-ending series of thunderstorms to Washington DC, including one full day of uninterrupted rain. While I am very glad that we are leaving in a few days for holidays to our hometowns in Italy, it does not really feel like summer out of the window. Which is a pity, because I do not get the typical “vacation excitement” that normally comes with bright shining sun and the knowledge that you are soon going to be lazing around somewhere underneath it.
So I decided to artificially create some summer by means of cooking a Mediterranean piece of fish, en papillotte. En papillote literally means “in paper”. The food is enclosed in a packet of parchment paper and then baked in the oven, so that the steam produced inside the packets cooks the food. It obviously works best for delicate foods such as fish and vegetables, which do not require long cooking time.
Here I used cod fillets and thin-sliced red potatoes, onions and ruby-red cherry tomatoes, sprinkled with a mix of oregano, thyme and black pepper. Each fillet is sealed together with the vegetables into a sheet of parchment and cooked in the oven for about 20 minutes. This results into a very moist fish and tender potatoes, with the tomatoes realising their tangy juice, as a perfect sauce. It is a very simple recipe but it does bring summer back instantly!
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2 cod fillets (4-5 oz.)
- 4 red potatoes, washed and scrubbed (skin on)
- 16-18 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the potatoes into thin slices, then toss them with salt, pepper, oregano, thyme leaves and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, into a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half. Season the cod fillets with some salt and pepper too.
Cut 2 sheets of parchment paper (15×24-inch) sheets of parchment. Fold each sheet in half, forming a rectangle, then open and lay flat.
Arrange half of the seasoned potatoes on each piece of parchment paper, not on the centre but on one of the halves. Top with half of the tomatoes per each parchment sheets and the fish fillets, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
To create the papillote, fold the paper over the fish, then starting at one of the top corners fold over about 1/2 inch of the edge, pressing down to make a crisp crease, then continue to make small overlapping pleats all the way around the rectangle, until it is sealed. If necessary, make a second fold anyplace that doesn’t appear tightly sealed.
Place both papillotes on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting the top of the paper packets.