Prep time: 40 minutes
Active prep time: 20 minutes
Special equipment needed – Parchment paper
Special skills needed – None
“Al cartoccio” in Italian or “en papillote” in French means “in a bag.” This simple dish is almost entirely fool-proof and works with many different fish. I like it with Tai Snapper, Red Snapper, or Yellowtail snapper, but take snapper out of the name and you can use white seabass, redfish, halibut, rockfish, tilapia, or striped bass. The dish presents well and can be quite colorful. The fish and vegetables can be served as a meal or served with rice or couscous. They can be served alone or topped with a beurre blanc or hollandaise. Feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables like asparagus or broccoli in favor of the ones in my recipe. Just be careful not to use watery vegetables like squash which will sweat too much and waterlog your fish. You can also replace the salt and pepper with your favorite spice blend. Creole seasoning works well. Lemon pepper, old bay, and seasoned salt are also good choices.
2 Large carrots – chopped into sticks
1 Red bell pepper – sliced
1 Yellow bell pepper – sliced
1 Cup fresh green beans – ends removed and halved
1 medium onion – sliced
4 snapper fillets – 3/8” to ¾” thick
4 Tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Tear off 4 sheets of parchment paper, 16 inches long.
Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. When the water is boiling, drop in all the vegetables and boil for 3 minutes.
Note – If you cut your vegetables too big, they won’t cook all the way through. My rule of thumb is that the vegetables should be ¼ the thickness of the fish fillet. It doesn’t matter on a green bean so much as it does on a woody vegetable like a carrot.
Drain and rinse with cold water. Dump them into a colander to dry, taking care to get them as dry as possible. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
Place a fish fillet in the center of each piece of parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Top with ¼ of the vegetable mix.
Melt the butter and mix it with the fresh thyme. Coat the top of each fish fillet with the butter mixture.
Fold the parchment paper into a small sealed packet. Place in a glass 9X13 pan and bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes. Open one packet and put a fork into the thickest part of the fish. If it is white all the way through and flakes easily, it is done. Unless the fish are huge, they should be done after 18 minutes. Open the bags and serve as is, or transfer to a plate. Squeeze a lemon over each fillet, just before serving.