Sunday, September 2, 2012

fish en papillote with tomatoes and olives

I realize this dish is never going to win a beauty pageant. But trust me on this: the quick preparation, fun presentation, and fresh taste definitely make up for that. This fish truly takes just minutes to pull together, which means that if you pair it with a simple salad, you'll have a complete, healthy meal in less than half an hour. Plus, thanks to the ease of the parchment paper, you can count of one hand the number of dishes you'll dirty in the process. Oh, and it's the ideal light dinner to showcase those glorious homegrown/farmers' market tomatoes of late summer. A fabulous "garment" and bathing-suit-fit? Well, maybe it does deserve a pageant crown and sash.

Note: I used cod instead of red snapper, because that is what I had on hand. I think most any white fish would be good.

Fish en Papillote with Tomatoes and Olives
Yield 4 servings

4 (6-ounce) red snapper fillets (1-inch-thick), skinned
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices (from 3-4 medium tomatoes)
12 Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
zest from 1/2 orange, removed with a microplane grater
4 fresh herb springs, such as sage, thyme, or parsley

Preheat the oven to 500°F.

Cut four 12x15 inch sheets of parchment paper. Fold each sheet crosswise in half to crease, then unfold. Set aside.

Drain fish on double layer of paper towels, making sure any excess moisture is absorbed by the paper. Season fish with salt and pepper and put 1 fillet to the right of the crease on each sheet. Top each fillet with 3 tomato slices, 1/4 of olives, 1/8 tsp red pepper lakes, 1/4 each of butter and zest, and 1 herb spring. Starting at one corner of crease, fold edge of parchment over in triangles (each fold should overlap previous one), following a semicircular path around the fillet, smoothing out folds as you go and tucking last fold under to seal papillote completely.

Heat a large baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes.

Put papillotes on hot baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes.

To serve, transfer packets to four plates; with a knife, slit top of each packet and tear it to expose fish. Slide fish and sauce onto plates and discard paper.

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook