Four filets of salmon, cooked in parchment paper with veggies and herbs


Quick And Healthy Fish Baked In Parchment Packets

Feb 17, 2017

It’s true, packaged food can be the fastest when you need a quick dinner — even better, healthier and most often faster: packages you assemble yourself.

Wrapping a piece of fresh fish in a parchment packet traps moisture, allowing the fish to steam as it cooks, creating a moist, flavourful, never-dried-out filet. Many people worry about overcooking fish — when you use this French ("en papillote”) technique, it’s virtually foolproof. A single filet in a packet with a few herbs and veggies of your choice makes it easy to cook a proper meal for one or two, but the technique is equally well-suited to a large family; individual packets can be customized to suit each person’s taste.

Two cooked salmon filets in parchment paper with veggies

Here’s how it works: tear off a piece of parchment (as many as you have filets to cook), cut it/them into a circle if you like (I do this with the whole stack at once), fold each piece in half and lay thinly sliced veggies — anything from zucchini, to peppers, to asparagus — on one side of the fold. Place a piece of salmon or whitefish on top, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper, fold over the paper to cover and seal the edges as if you were making a calzone. It doesn’t have to be neat, you just want to fold it closed enough to trap the heat and steam. It doesn’t even have to look like a calzone; put the ingredients in the middle, pull the sides up and fold to seal, if you like. No need for perfection here — and as it’s just folding paper, kids can do their own.

Salmon fillets wrapped in parchment paper on a baking sheet

Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 400˚F oven for 10-13 minutes per inch of thickness. Then it’s done, all in one! Put the packets onto plates to open them — you can eat them straight from the parchment, of course, or slide the filets and veggies onto your plate. So easy, and hardly any cleanup!

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Salmon Baked In Parchment

Feel free to swap whitefish or halibut filets for the salmon and adjusting the cooking time to account for the thickness. If you like the flavour, add a splash of white wine to your parcel before sealing it up.

The ingredients you'll need to make salmon baked in parchment

  • salmon or steelhead trout filets
  • thinly sliced zucchini, mushrooms, boiled potatoes, fresh spinach or pepper strips, cooked lentils, trimmed asparagus stalks or halved cherry tomatoes
  • pesto (optional)
  • sprigs of thyme, parsley or rosemary (or a pinch of dry herbs)
  • thin lemon slices (optional)
  • good olive oil or a dab of butter
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Tear off squares of parchment — as many pieces as you have pieces of fish. Fold in half and if you like, cut into a circle.

Circles cut out of parchment paper

Unfold each piece and lay veggies — just enough to serve one — in a single layer, overlapping if you need to, on one side of the fold. Lay a piece of fish over the veggies. If you like, spread the top of the salmon with a spoonful of pesto, otherwise drizzle with oil (or add a dab of butter) and sprinkle with herbs (or lay sprigs on the filets), add a slice or two of lemon if you like, then season with salt and pepper.

A piece of salmon with veggies ready to be wrapped in parchment beside two filets that are already in their parchment packets

Fold the parchment over the fish and fold the edge to seal it closed. Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the fish is firm to the touch.

A baked filet of salmon, unwrapped from its parchment packet, ready to be served

Let cool for a few minutes before carefully opening each package to serve. Serves as many as you like.

Article Author Julie Van Rosendaal
Julie Van Rosendaal

Read more from Julie here.

Julie Van Rosendaal is the author of six best-selling cookbooks (with a seventh due out this fall), the food editor of Parents Canada magazine and the food and nutrition columnist on the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One. She is a recipe developer, TV personality, food stylist and writes about food for local, national and international publications. She is perhaps best known as the voice behind her popular food blog, Dinner with Julie, where she documents real life at home in Calgary with her husband and nine-year-old son. Connect on twitter @dinnerwithjulie.