Parchment pockets are an easy way to simultaneously cook moist and tender fish, lightly steam veggies, and cut down on the amount of clean up after dinner. You don’t even need plates; just eat right out of the parchment.
With simple cooking methods, however, can come simple flavors. Which is why this parchment-baked halibut is topped with a zinging parsley-spinach pesto. This bold, nutrient-rich pesto is also a delicious way to eat your leafy greens. If you’re not in love with leafy greens in their natural state, or greens don’t show up often enough on your (or on your kid’s) plate, then pesto is the perfect place to hide them.
Spinach is one of the best greens to add to pesto because it hardly changes the flavor at all. Blanching the spinach ups the amount of iron you’ll absorb and also helps keep the color of pesto greener, longer. However, a handful of raw spinach easily blends into pesto as well. So go ahead – whether it’s this refreshing dairy-free parsley pesto or a traditional basil pesto – throw in a handful of greens, even if you have to do it on the sly.
Servings: 2 (with leftover pesto)
Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes
- 2 6-ounce halibut fillets (or other white fish) (170 g)
- 1 to 2 bell peppers, cut into thin slices or matchsticks
- 1 to 2 small yellow squash, cut into thin slices or matchsticks
- 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
- 1 large bunch of parsley, leave plucked or shorn off with a knife. A little bit of stem is okay.
- 1 tablespoon raw, unsalted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (15 ml)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (15 ml)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil (60 ml to 120 ml)
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 °F (204 °C).
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Prepare a small bowl of ice water as well.
Blanch the spinach in the boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain. Drop the spinach into the ice water to cool. Drain and squeeze excess water out of the leaves.
Finely chop the spinach and put it in a food processor with the parsley, sunflower seeds, garlic and lemon juice. Process until the parsley is finely chopped. With the blade running, drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste.
Cut two 14-inch squares of parchment paper. (35 cm)
Create a small bed of bell pepper and squash slices in the middle of each paper. Set the fish on top. Season the fish and veggies lightly with salt and pepper.
Spread about 1 tablespoon of pesto on top of each piece of fish.
There are many ways to fold the parchment into sealed pockets around the fish. Here is one:
Fold over 1 inch (2.5 cm) of the paper on the sides that are closest to the short sides of the fish fillets.
Bring together the other two sides of the parchment, over the top of the long sides of the fillets. Fold these sides together twice to seal.
Fold over and crimp the short ends of the paper to seal.
Set the pockets on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until fish is opaque in the middle.
Open the parchment carefully to avoid stem. Garnish the fish and veggies with more pesto and serve.