Cooking fish is fun. Take a look at the veggies you have in your pantry and fridge. Start with onions and garlic and decide how much of it you want to taste that day. Maybe you want to enhance onion taste with some spring onions and leeks or is it going to be more garlic today? Tomatoes. There should be tomatoes in a Mediterranean recipe, especially if it is summer or a good quality passata or a can of chopped tomatoes during winter. So many options, so much flavor. So, in front of a fine wild-caught Mediterranean cod, fresh eggplant, and vine tomatoes, this recipe was developed one fine morning. In half an hour, parchment baked cod with eggplant and vine tomatoes was ready. Sweet!
This recipe has a mile-long list of healthy ingredients served with the best protein you could possibly feed your body. I won’t preach about eating seafood because you already are aware of the benefits and how important omega-3 fatty acid content is. Just keep in mind that a typical Mediterranean diet contains moderate amounts of fish meaning eating fish/seafood at least 2 times weekly.
That being said, if you are ready to adjust your diet and eat a little less meat and more fish, you may face some serious challenges along the way. Seafood is sometimes difficult to be part of a weekly family menu mostly because of its funny, “fishy” taste that makes those little picky eaters run like hell away from the family table. Run like the wind…and hide. Oh boy!! Those picky eaters!! But again even adults prefer a juicy steak over a fish or they aren’t too into fish. Additionally, cooking fish can be sometimes intimidating and it requires some basic cooking skills.
PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS
Cooking fish in parchment paper is the perfect way for beginners, or for those who feel like fish out of water … cooking it. To put it simply, you use the parchment paper to create a packet full of the food of your choice. Put it in the oven and let all that steam inside the packet to do its magic, cook the fish in its own juices and give an insanely flavored food with all nutrients preserved. No way to mess this fish up or burn anything. Did I mention that you save on mess and dishes? Now, I know I have your attention.
HOW TO COOK IT
Here are some tips on how to incorporate fish into your diet and make the picky eaters follow along:
- To begin with, milder fish such as cod, halibut, bass, and tilapia can be super introductions. Start with these and see where it goes from there.
- Eating fish can be fun. Take this post’s recipe for instance. I know that it’s difficult to find wild-caught fish like in this recipe but you may use whatever you can find: fresh or frozen white fish fillets like cod, bass, haddock, grouper, catfish, snapper, tilapia, etc. and then your seasonal favorite vegetables. Cook everything together in a parchment paper pouch in no more than 20-30 minutes. You have the option to make individual pouches and serve them right from the oven. My children love to open their pouch themselves under my surveillance because the steam may sometimes be very hot. That’s the fun part for them. They also choose the vegetables they prefer and prepare sometimes their own pouch of baked fish. For example, my eldest doesn’t like zucchini (at all) and my youngest fennel (for sure). Let your children get involved in the kitchen, pick their food from the fridge and the pantry and help you prepare the dinner. They are going to like it so much and this is an ideal opportunity to teach them all about healthy, real food. Priceless moments, my friends!
- Along with vegetables, add flavorful olive oil, herbs and some spices. The purpose is to cover somehow the “fishy taste” with ingredients equally healthy. I don’t like to trick my children by hiding fish or veggies or anything else in their favorite foods. They usually eat one bite of something they don’t like but they always know what they eat and why. This is the most important part of their nutritional education.
- Don’t waste the liquid from your parchment baked cod (or other fish). Alternatively, use it up for boiling the rice served with the fish. It is going to be so good!
- Incorporate fish in something almost every picky eater loves….like …hmmm…. Pasta! What else? This recipe is ideal to pair freshly made whole wheat pasta and all the goodies from the pouch and it’s perfect to make a fantastic dinner with leftovers. Leave the caramelized veggies as they are and just cut the fish into small pieces. Add some more olive oil! More fresh herbs like thyme, parsley, maybe some lemon, freshly ground pepper, Kalamata olives (my 4-year-old son’s addition to every single dish lately). Done and ready to serve!!!
If you make this recipe and you like it, show me some love with your rating or tag me on Instagram with your culinary creation. I will be thrilled to see your masterpieces.
Parchment Baked Cod with Eggplant and Vine Tomatoes
- 2pounds (800g) wild-caught cod
- 2pounds (800g) boneless white fish fillets, cod, bass, haddock, grouper, catfish, snapper, tilapia skin-on or skinless
- 1 onion sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 10ounce (300g) cherry or vine tomatoes
- 1 big eggplant cubed
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 small lemon zest
- 1½ tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry) chopped
- 1½ tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dry) chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C).
- In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, vegetables (onion, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, lemon zest) and herbs (thyme and/or oregano, dill (optional)) and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper (big enough to wrap the fish and the veggies) on a baking pot*(1). Place the fish and season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter all the veggie/herb mix all around the fish.
- Wrap the fish well with more parchment paper, creating a package around the fish.
- Roast 20 minutes for small fish and 20-40 for bigger fish.
- Fold 4 large square pieces of parchment paper in half. Open, and lay on the half flat. Working on one side of the parchment paper, place each fish fillet and season with salt and pepper.
- Scatter all the veggie/herb mix all around the fish.
- Lift the parchment paper on 2 opposite sides to meet in the middle above fish. Tightly fold down the paper until it reaches fish, crimping to seal. Roll up and crimp the ends to seal really well. The steam shouldn’t escape during cooking.
- Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 4 packets.
- Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes for thin fillets (like tilapia) or 20-30 max for thicker fillets (like cod).
- Transfer packets to plates, carefully unwrap because the steam can be hot.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper.
- If the fish is big it is more convenient to be placed on a baking pot rather on a baking sheet.
- If you like your fish and veggies crispier, you may open the packet and bake the last 10 minutes.
- Keep the liquid from your baked fish and use it up for boiling rice or paste.