A holiday respite in delicious and light haddock in parchment

By Jim Bailey

I Need Fish!

After the holiday eating, I truly need to lighten it up a bit: something simple (as always), fragrant and filling, in a non-guilty kind of way. Fish is the perfect answer. I think you will enjoy the great flavors steamed with the great touches of Mexico.

Haddock Sabrosa en Papillote

Don’t let the name fool you. This recipe is very simple to prepare and makes you look as though you know your way around the kitchen.
Cooking en papillote (in parchment) is not only a quick method, it also distributes the flavors evenly and keeps everything moist. It is a fun way to serve an entree, as diners open their packets to see what’s inside. You can use either parchment paper or foil. Do not use waxed paper though. Feel free to substitute the haddock with any white fish such as tilapia, cod, hake or even halibut.

2 cups tightly packed cilantro
1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas*
1/3 cup cup grated Pecorino, Romano or Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Grated rind from one lemon
Juice from one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds haddock fillets (8 fillets)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice
12 ounces fresh green beans
1 lemon, sliced into 8 thin rounds

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.

Haddock en pappillote

Prepare pesto. Place cilantro and pumpkin seeds in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, pepper and lemon zest, pulse again until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Through the feed tube, add lemon juice and oil to the mixture while pulsing, until fully combined and smooth. The pesto will be thick.

Scoop pesto into a large bowl and add haddock filets to pesto and coat evenly. Cut parchment paper or foil into four(18-inch) long pieces. In the middle of each piece, place 1/2 cup jasmine rice, 1/4 of the green beans and two filets. Place a lemon slice on top of each filet. Fold the paper or foil in half, covering the fish, and crimp the edges all around to seal the packet. If using parchment paper, it may help to secure the edges using a non-coated metal paper clip.
Place pouches on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Open one packet to check doneness; fish should be flaky and green beans tender. Transfer each packet to a dinner plate and serve immediately, instructing diners to be careful of the steam as they peel back the paper.

*If you can’t find shelled pumpkin seeds, substitute sunflower kernels.

Storing pesto

Pesto is best the day it is made, as the color can fade from emerald to olive green. But if you store pesto correctly, the taste will still be great.
Short-term storage: Store in a plastic container with a tight lid, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. Drizzle with a little olive oil to help retain the brighter color.
Long-term storage: Make a big batch of pesto. Pour the pesto  in an ice cube tray lined with plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap over the top of the ice tray. Freeze for several hours, or until solid, then transfer the cubes to a resealable plastic freezer bag. Use individual cubes as needed.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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