This is by far one of the easiest ways to make a delicious and healthy meal, fast. It’s also a great option if you’re cooking for more than one, or with kids – you can customize each parchment paper package with whatever protein, vegetables, and spices that you’d like, and because each option is individually sealed, you won’t have any cross-contamination of tastes or scents. I personally love cooking en papillote because it looks super fancy, and you can cook fish without having the entire house smell like a boat dock. Plus, it all cooks up in 15-20 minutes, depending on what type of protein you use. How amazing is that?
– 4 oz. chicken or fish
– raw, mixed vegetables
– 1 t olive oil
– cooking spray (optional)
– salt and pepper, and any other seasonings desired
– parchment paper
Preheat your oven to 350° for chicken, or 375° for fish. Gather, wash, and cut your vegetables into bite sized chunks, or long strips (julienned, if you will) for presentation purposes. Having some longer or leafier vegetables helps to create a bed for your protein to bake on – keep in mind, your vegetables won’t cook down much, so the size you cut will be the size you eat. Tear off a piece of parchment paper that is about 1½ times as big as the meal you want to eat. When in doubt, remember it’s always better to have a larger piece. Spray the sheet with cooking spray, or drizzle with 1t of olive oil. Put your vegetables on top of the spray/oil in the center of the parchment, and place your protein on top. Add another teaspoon or so of oil, and all of your spices. The more fat and spice you add, the more flavor – I’ve found 1t of fat to be the minimum amount to use. Once all of your ingredients are prepped, it’s time to seal the package. Take two opposite corners of the parchment, and fold them together. Continue folding and rolling the edges together until you’ve completely sealed the package – it will look sort of like a giant empanada (or calzone) on its side. Place your finished packages on a baking sheet, and place in the oven for 15-18 minutes for fish, or 18-20 minutes for chicken. The vegetables and protein will steam, and the flavors will circulate in the parchment as it cooks – hungry yet? When the timer goes off, let the packages sit on the stove to rest for 3-5 minutes. Place the sealed packages on dinner plates, and open them up – the aroma that floods out of that package is going to make you so happy – I’m salivating just thinking about it.
This time around, I used chicken, asparagus, zucchini, grape tomatoes, spinach, and red bell peppers, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried oregano and basil, and finished the cooked chicken off with some balsamic vinegar. I’ve also used the same vegetables, 4 oz. of swordfish, a few lemon slices, garlic, and red pepper flakes – it’s hard to go wrong with this one.
I’d recommend eating this meal right after it’s cooked – you can’t replicate that experience!