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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Packets

During the zucchini season I tried this dish and found it a pleasing way to help deal with an abundance of the vegetable. This can be cooked any time of year, however, since store-bought zucchini is still good. The dish is quick and can be prepared ahead of time and pulled from the refrigerator to cook on a busy evening.


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Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Packets


Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 2 (multiply the recipe for more servings)

1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 T butter, cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 teas dried dill weed or a sprig of fresh dill
2 lemon slices, halved, plus 4 teas fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 skinless salmon fillet (6-8 oz)

Set oven to 350F and preheat. Prepare 2 large pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil (approximately 15 by 16 inches) by folding them to crease and then opening to lay them flat. 

For each serving mound half of the zucchini on the center of one half of the paper. Top with half the shallots, butter, some of the dill, and the lemon slices. Season with salt and pepper. Set one fillet on top of a mound. Drizzle each with 2 teas lemon juice and sprinkle with the remaining dill weed and salt and pepper.

Fold the other side of the parchment over the mound and make small, overlapping pleats to seal the open sides. Make each into half moon shaped packets and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. (If you use foil, try to leave an air pocket rather than wrapping tightly.) Bake for 15-19 minutes until salmon is mostly opaque. Since the salmon is inside the packet I found this hard to test. One can use an instant read thermometer (145 is target temperature) right through the paper into the thickest part of the salmon and return to the oven if needed. 

You may serve this in the packet so everything stays warm and you'll enjoy a sensory surprise when the steamy package is opened. But a big piece of parchment paper may be hard to deal with on a dinner plate so alternatively you may cut a slit in the paper packet and use a spatula to transfer everything to plates (foil can be easily pulled apart). 

See these videos for a good description of how to cook "en papillote" (the French term for paper packet cooking): http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/inside-our-kitchen/article/how-to-fold-parchment-paper-to-cook-en-papillote or http://www.finecooking.com/videos/fish-in-parchment.aspx


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