Pacific Cod en Papillote: Little Mess, Big Flavor

image source: elizabeth stark
image source: elizabeth stark

Healthy dinners aren’t always easy to pull together on a busy weeknight. On top of that, it’s really easy to get stuck in a dinner rut — turning to the simple meals we know and love when we’re short on time. Sometimes, though, a meal so simple and fresh comes along that it’s an instant classic and gets added to the family repertoire immediately.

That’s how I feel about this recipe for Pacific Cod en Papillote. Because it’s cooked in a parchment pouch, the fish is tender and moist and there’s almost no cleanup. I also love that the vegetables cook alongside the fish, so the flavors of the fish, vegetables, and dill butter mingle as they cook, making for a delicious sauce.

Pacific Cod en Papillote
image source: elizabeth stark

When selecting the vegetables to cook, pick ones that cook at about the same rate. I went with peppers, cherry tomatoes, and onions, but these ingredients could easily be swapped for zucchini, summer squash, green beans, asparagus, or leeks. I like to serve my Cod en Papillote over farro, though anything from polenta to rice to couscous would work well.

Finally, a note on selecting fish: Atlantic cod has been overfished in recent years, so wild-caught Pacific cod is a more sustainable alternative.

Pacific Cod en Papillote
image source: elizabeth stark

Cod en Papillote with Sweet Peppers and Cherry Tomatoes

Makes: 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus 4 sprigs dill, divided
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 6-ounce skinless Pacific cod fillets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups peppers, chopped (I used a mix of Cubanelle and bell)
  • 1 red onion, cored, peeled, and quartered
  • 1 lemon, sliced into paper thin wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut 4 (14 x 14-inch) squares of parchment paper.

2. To make dill butter, melt butter over medium heat. Add minced dill and several pinches sea salt, stir, and remove from heat.

3. Assemble the fish en papillote. First, lay out a parchment square. Set a piece of cod on top, and then tuck a quarter of the tomato halves and peppers all around the fish. Sprinkle fish with a pinch each of sea salt and pepper. Tuck some of the onion all around. Finish with several teaspoons dill butter, a sprig of dill, and several slices of lemon.

4. To fold the papillote, fold the left and right sides of the parchment together, and fold a seam in the center. Next, fold up the top and bottom.

5. Set envelopes in a large skillet or oven-proof baking dish. Slide into the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets (thicker fillets should cook longer). Let fillets sit for 1 minute, then carefully open the envelopes (steam will be hot).

6. Gently set fish and vegetable on grain of choice. Tip collected juices from the parchment on top. Garnish with lemon wedges; serve immediately.

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