I was lucky enough to go on vacation to South Florida last weekend- a very necessary break from life here up north. In place of icy rain and staring at computer screens all day, I was instead greeted with 87-degree weather and palm trees. Rain boots and sweaters? Try tank tops and flip flops.
To top it off, my grandmother lives in a seriously awesome condo right on the beach, between the ocean and the Intercoastal. Seriously, I can’t make these views up:
Another stroke of luck occurred on my JetBlue flight, where each passenger gets complimentary, live DirecTV streaming right to the seatback in front of you. I of course headed straight to Food Network, where I saw Anne Burrell concocting a classic, beautiful, and definitely do-able dish: Halibut in Cartoccio. An idea was hatched!
My grandmother and I hosted some of her old work friends one night for dinner, so I got to work. The grocery store we went to did not have any halibut in stock, but we did get some same-day-caught cod filets.
I had to adjust this recipe pretty dramatically- Anne calls for a TON more vegetables than needed, unless I managed to grab the largest zucchini and squash known to man. I halved this in a few cases, and still ended up with nearly half the vegetables left. I also found that the cooking time needed to be adjusted (more like doubled, nearly tripled)- but as always, be sure to adjust as needed on your own, taking into account your oven’s temperature and size of the filets.
Merluzzo in Cartoccio (Cod in Parchment Paper)
- 1 zucchini, green part only, julienned
- 1 small butternut squash, top part only, peeled and julienned
- 1/2 pint Brussels sprouts, leaves pulled apart
- 1 large leek, julienned
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon picked thyme leaves
- Kosher salt
- 4 (6-ounce) cod fillets (or any firm, white fish)
- 4 slices lemon
- 2 cups dry white wine
- Special Equipment: Parchment paper
1) Fold 4 (9 by 13-inch) pieces of parchment paper in half and starting at the top of the fold, cut a large half circle from the paper. When the fold is opened it should be a full circle.
2) In a bowl combine the zucchini, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and leeks. Toss generously with olive oil and season with the thyme leaves and salt. Oil and salt the fish as well.
3) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
4) Open the parchment paper circles (or hearts) and brush the paper with olive oil leaving a 1-inch border around the edge.
5) Divide the seasoned vegetables between the 4 papers, placing them in the center just above the crease. Lay the fish fillets on top of the vegetables and place a lemon slice on top of each fish fillet. Fold the paper over the fish.
6) Working from 1 end of the parchment to the other fold the bottom of the paper over the top to crease and seal the packets. The closure needs to be very secure so the steam will not escape during the cooking process. Before the package is completely sealed, carefully add 1/2 cup wine in each then seal. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
7) Remove the fish from the oven, place on serving dishes and serve immediately.
You will know that the fish is ready to go when the parchment paper has turned brown on top. Get ready for the awesome aromas that will come out when you open the parchment!