I’m always looking for quick, healthy, easy ways to get dinner on the table. Inspired by the great Martha Stewart and her lovely little magazine, Everyday Food, I’m spreading the joy of a simple technique called En Papillote in French, or Al Cartoccio in Italian. In English we call it cooking in parchment paper.
This super easy technique allows you to create custom-designed meals (great for a table of picky eaters) in minutes with little preparation and little skill. All you need to do is seal the food in a pouch and bake. It’s that simple.
1: Preheat your oven to about 400 degrees.
2: Cut one 13-18 inch wide piece of parchment paper per person. You can find parchment paper at the grocery store near the aluminum foil and wax paper. You can use aluminum foil as well, but don’t use wax paper, it can’t take the heat of the oven.
3: Slice up your favorite aromatic veggies. Slice in roughly the same size and use veggies that cook at similar temps and times. Some ideas: sliced carrots, shallots, onions, garlic, olives, mushrooms, broccoli, snap peas, potatoes, leeks. Shortcut: buy pre-sliced veggies or stir fry mix
4: Lightly butter, oil, or spray the parchment paper and then place your fish or chicken fillet (or just a bunch of veggies) in the center of parchment.
5: Top with the sliced veggies, plus some herbs and spices.
6: Season with salt and pepper and 1-2 tsp drizzle of olive oil.
7: Fold into a twist or envelope shape (click here for pictorial how-to on folding).
8: Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet until packets are puffed up (depending on your protein, about 12-18 minutes).
Don’t forget to add some flavorful add-ins like lemon, orange or lime zest, capers, fresh herbs, wine, balsamic vinegar, or even grainy mustard. Serve over couscous or rice.
Red Snapper in parchment
Ginger-garlic Sea Bass
Chicken and potatoes
Chicken and veggies
Here’s to quick, easy, and healthy meals that will make you look (and feel) like a gourmet chef!