I wouldn’t dare name this a recipe. It doesn’t include exact measurements nor it requires some chemical rocket science thing. It’s just ingredients tossed together and baked in parchment paper, hence the French term en papillote.
You might say all my recipes so far include pasta and fish, and you are right but I just realized that myself. The truth is I love fish and I have it twice a week, but sometimes it gets boring and it needs some kind of carb with it to make it more filling. Maybe it’s just me but if I only have a fish fillet for lunch, I go hungry in an hour. Plus, I want something more healthful than our Lebanese fried fish with fries and Fattoush menu, or the oil-laden fish kebbeh. I still enjoy these treats but only occasionally when I am visiting Lebanon. Everything in moderation.
So back to our recipe. The inspiration came two days ago while having dinner at an Italian restaurant with my husband. I ordered a seafood pasta with a very light sauce. I could discern garlic, olive oil and seafood stock. No white, red or pink sauce, just the pasta, cherry tomatoes and the seafood. Every flavor shined on its own. The papillote thing came while glancing at our neighbors’ table, I couldn’t figure what they had in theirs but the steam coming out made me want to try this technique. En papillote is actually a very healthy way of cooking as you do not need the extra amounts of fat. Plus, may I add it’s a very clean method as well; no dirty baking trays and no scrubbing! So double yey!
For this recipe (and all others for that matter), please feel free to go with your instincts and whatever you fancy. I started with loads of Italian herbs on the counter and ended up using only thyme. Fault of watching too many Masterchef episodes, I’m learning to restrain my urge of using all the herbs and spices in my cabinet in one recipe. Don’t overpower the main ingredient, let it shine. Alternately, you can go with basil, oregano, rosemary…
Ingredients ( 2 servings can easily be tranformed to 10!)
For the pasta:
- 200 g spaghetti ( next time I’ll be using whole wheat)
- a handful cherry tomatoes, didn’t have that on hand so I used 1 tomato, diced
- 5 fat cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper
For the fish:
- 2 white fish fillets
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- a few sprinkles of dried thyme
- a few dashes of white wine or white grape juice
- salt and black pepper
Cook the spaghetti to al dente. You do not want to overcook it as it will cook further in the oven. Once done, drain it and add the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper. You can add capers, olives, red pepper flakes, anchovies maybe. Whatever you have on hand and whatever you like. As a first timer, I preferred a simpler version. For the fish, salt and pepper both sides.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut a large piece of parchment, enough to hold the ingredients and close well and place it on a baking sheet. Place the spaghetti in the center and layer the fish on top of it. Sprinkle the thyme and the lemon zest. Add the lemon juice and a few splashes of wine. Wrap the paper well and bake for around 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. I had a relatively thin piece of fish so 18 minutes were enough.
I didn’t think I would post this recipe but when it tasted that good I just took a few mediocre pictures before we dove in! Yum!