Do you ever have days where dinner seems impossible? One kid has basketball practice and another is at play rehearsal, both done at different times. Your spouse is working late and you just walked in the door. Sometimes the concept of a healthy family dinner is just that, a concept. Before you pick up the phone to order Chinese takeout (again) check out my very easy fish in parchment which can be assembled in minutes or pre-assembled and cooked whenever you are ready. This has been a go-to dinner for me over the years because it is just so convenient and I can easily cater to each family members’ personal tastes. I pre-assemble each piece of fish in a square of parchment or aluminum foil and write each person’s name with a sharpie and throw them into the oven as needed. By far the fastest side is couscous (a huge hit with my kids) which only takes 5 minutes, but since this is Wheatless Wednesday, I will be serving my fish over brown Jasmine rice. Most grains can be cooked ahead of time and will sit and wait until you’re ready and they make a perfect pairing with fish in parchment as the delicious juices add a boost of flavor to what is normally a fairly bland side dish. The best part of this meal though is the presentation. I love a ‘pretty plate’ and this is certainly nice enough to impress your dinner guests, plus you can prepare everything ahead of time and clean up is easy.
When they were little boys, my kids’ tastes were very finicky, so I was limited to what vegetables or seasonings I could include. Dylan was a purist, butter and salt only. Jackson liked thinly sliced zucchini circles on his and Eric was more adventurous with red peppers. As they got older their palate grew right along with them, and I started adding jalapenos, sliced red onions, mushrooms, capers, tomatoes, olives, cooked eggplant, pretty much anything I had available. The trick is to know your customer and prepare with them in mind. Parents with picky eaters, take heart. My boys, who at one time couldn’t have any food touching on their plate, have moved on to gourmet and exotic foods like seared ahi, sushi and escargot.
A light fish like red snapper, tilapia or sea bass are very mild and suit themselves to cooking in parchment. Cooking in parchment is really steaming the fish in its own juices which is a healthy and tasty way to cook. The juices also pick up the flavors of any vegetables and seasonings you include and create a delicious ‘broth’. You can use parchment or aluminum foil but foil cooks a bit hotter, so fish might get done more quickly, and some ingredients will react with it, especially lemon juice and wine.
Fish in Parchment