Life happens fast.  We all have too many things we need need to do: work, sports, school activities, help with homework, etc.  Our lives are also filled with a long list of the things we want to do: spend quality time with friends & family, read a book, take a bath, travel, spend time working on a hobby, etc.  For me, family time has become more  critical than ever as I realize my son is growing up way too fast.  How did he get to high school already?

We also want to eat healthy and save money.  All of these conflicting desires and demands can really stress out a parent.  Let’s figure out a way to slow down the clock, hear about our kid’s experiences, achievements, and challenges over a healthy, easy, budget-friendly meal.  Here is a quick and easy cooking technique for shrimp and fish that will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I enrolled in a cooking class at a nearby farm.  We had a chance to try several different fish recipes and cooking techniques.  I immediately realized that ‘en papillote’ had the potential to change my life in the kitchen.  This fancy French term?  It describes an easy cooking method for healthy food with minimal clean-up!  Count me in!

I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.  My kitchen experiments have not always turned out as planned and are never perfect, but  this is real life and I don’t recall a time when my family has ever turned down a meal.  The recipe outlined below works well with shrimp and any sturdy white fish such as orange roughy, tilapia, haddock, sole, or halibut. Buy whatever your budget allows.  I purchased a pack of individually wrapped tilapia filet (6) for about $10 at Target.

I really like the flexibility of this recipe.   It allows you to use what you have available for marinade or toppings.   It can be varied easily to make this part of a regular meal rotation without boring everyone’s taste buds.  If you keep a bag of fish filet in the freezer, you can make this last minute to avoid expensive food delivery or an unhealthy drive through visit.

What is en papillote?  It is a method of cooking where the food is put into a pouch or parcel and baked.  Parchment paper or aluminum foil may be used.  I prefer parchment paper.  The pouch is created by folding over the parchment paper or foil, sealing the edges by folding/twisting, and the contents are steamed.  In restaurants, en papillote is typically served in the pouch at the table so guests can open their own and enjoy the aroma.

The Basic Fish Recipe

  • Place the shrimp or fish on the parchment paper.
  • Top with julienne (thin) strips of red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, red onion, green onion, or lemon.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and paper.  Add fresh or dry herbs.
  • Liquid can be added with a splash of olive oil, broth, or wine.  Fish can also be marinated for 30-minutes prior to baking to allow time for the fish to absorb the flavors.  See below for a suggestion.
  • Seal the edges of the parchment by folding to prevent the steam from escaping.
  • Place the pouches on a baking tray for support.  Bake in the oven at 400 F for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  This technique is very forgiving as long as you don’t leave the pouches in the oven too long, allowing all of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Does not get easier than this!

Simple Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • pinch of dillweed, dash of hot sauce, and dash of soy sauce or sprinkle of salt

I grew up in a salad, meat, potato, and veggie every night for dinner family (love!).  If you add a vegetable and steam along with the fish inside the pouch, you can keep meal prep even simpler…..no need for an extra veggie side dish  or salad.  I had fresh tomatoes from the garden, so I tossed those with a little balsamic vinegar and blue cheese.

Tilapia filet on parchment paper with julienne strips of red pepper.

Prep time for fish and potatoes after boiling was about 10-minutes (cleaning and slicing).  Threw it in the oven and 20-30 minutes later a delicious, healthy, and cost-friendly meal was on the table.

Tilapia filet on parchment with red pepper, a splash of olive oil, dash of salt and pepper, a sprinkle of dried thyme and a sprig of fresh thyme from the garden.

To keep things simple, I boiled a few red potatoes while I prepared the peppers, smashed them on the tray with the fish pouches, sprinkled with bacon crumbles,  cheddar cheese, and green onion.  Because the potatoes were precooked, everything was in the oven and on the table in under 30-minutes.

The tilapia filet and peppers were sealed in the parchment paper by folding over the edges. Bake at 400 F for 20-30 minutes and dinner is served!

 

For serving, the en papillote (fish pouch) can be served directly on a plate and opened just before eating to keep the fish warm and moist or it can be removed.

I hope this recipe helps you get dinner on the table quickly and easily so you can enjoy a nice conversation with family and friends.

Laura