It’s winter in Los Angeles: getting dark early, cold (low 60s, even high 50s) and even raining every couple weeks for a whole day. Might as well be London. So I’ve been craving warm beach weather and summertime food, and found myself mentally transported recently to an Italian island eating beach-side and enjoying the freshest fish prepared in a very light way.
Which brings me to Salmone in Cartoccio. This simple approach to bake (and steam) fish is a perfect way to preserve the light texture of salmon but also to use winter vegetables, in this case Brussels sprouts and leeks. While other recipes for this dish will give up on using parchment paper in favor of foil, I consider eating out of a foil package uncivilized. So give this a try using parchment paper. The key is to crumple the parchment paper while dry. If it gets wet when you add the wine, it just won’t fold.
This recipe is adapted from Anne Burrell’s Halibut in Cartoccio. Serves 2 and contains enough vegetables to act as the accompaniment.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 2 salmon fillets, each about 2-inches wide
- 2 large sheets of brown or white parchment paper (about 12″x16″)
- 1 cup of Brussels sprouts, trimmed of the woody stem and sliced thin (this is most easily done using a food processor equipped with a slicing disk)
- 1 leek, sliced lengthwise, cleaned well of any dirt or sand and thinly sliced crosswise using only the white and light green part
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 slices of lemon, in this case I used Meyer lemon, removing most of the large seeds
- Extra virgin olive
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Sheet pan for baking
- Parchment paper as mentioned above
- A pair of kitchen scissors
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
- Combine the sliced Brussels sprouts and sliced leeks in a bowl. Strip the thyme sprigs of their leaves and add to mixture. Add a splash of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and combine.
- Cut the parchment paper by folding in half across width-wise. Cut the parchment paper into a 1/2-heart shape so when you unfold it you have a complete heart shape. The idea is to create a tear-drop-like shape when the parchment is sealed. Place the opened parchment paper on the baking sheet as shown.
- Spoon a healthy amount of the Brussels sprout and leek mixture onto one side of the parchment as shown in the photo. Flatten the top of the mixture to act as a bed for the salmon and leaving a good 1-inch of clean parchment around the edge. Remove some of the mixture if it’s too much.
- Layer the salmon on the mixture and season with salt and pepper. Layer two slices of the sliced lemon on top of the salmon.
- Now the fun part!! Have your wine standing by to use and fold the parchment paper over the fish assembly starting to crumple closed from the tail-end first – crumpling the bottom sheet over the top sheet. Continue working around the edge until you have 2 inches remaining. Now using both hands or get a friend to help, pour a 1/2 cup wine inside the almost closed package and then seal completely. The tighter the seal on the paper edge the better but it’s not the end of the world if it’s a bit open in a few places.
- Place the sheet pan holding the packets in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. When done, remove the sheet pan from the oven.
- Slide each package onto a serving plate and serve. Instruct your diners to slice the packets open with a knife being careful of the hot steam that will escape. The fish and the vegetables with be beautifully cooked and perfumed.