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Parchment Packets of Perfection

I bought Pampered Chef Parchment Paper a long time ago and never really knew what it was used for. I put cookies and freshly rolled pasta on it, and that’s about it. A few years ago, I dined at a french restaurant in Las Vegas and they made this amazing fish dish wrapped up in paper like a sack lunch from Heaven. [Something] En Papillote; amazing, but for some reason I haven’t thought about it since. That is, until I was thumbing through that new 400 calorie cookbook and found “halibut packets with orange and asparagus.” The variation sounded good with lemon and zucchini instead, and also suggests trying sole or salmon, but I went for the original this time.IMG_3222

My first mistake was cutting the parchment paper too small (I didn’t measure it and rushed the cutting), so make sure there’s plenty of room to fold all the sides up loosely and close them. I had already spread all the ingredients out on the pieces, so to avoid a mess I just cut bigger pieces and slid them underneath. Actually, believe it or not, that was my only mistake. This meal was delicious! The halibut fell apart in big flaky pieces and melted in our mouths like butter. The orange juice and zest added just the right amount of citrus needed to offset the richness of the fish, and the tomatoes and asparagus simmered in the sauce nicely to make a complete meal, even without a starch.IMG_3220

Of course, I just HAD to add one anyway. I wanted something that Ryley would be willing to eat, but would still be ok with the meal. Potatoes always work, but she won’t eat them in most forms. So I made French fries to go with our French meal. They weren’t entirely complementary to the halibut, but they were a very tasty appetizer, and much less fattening than real fries. I cut the potatoes with The Pampered Chef’s French Fry Cutter, sprayed them lightly with olive oil using the Kitchen Spritzer, and then cracked fresh salt before spreading them out on my Large Bar Pan. They’re somewhat thinner and I like soft potato inside the fries, so I baked them at 400 degrees for only about 20 minutes, and I did stir them around about halfway through. I added my traditional tabasco-ketchup for dipping because I love a little heat with the fries.IMG_3218

Unfortunately, Jeremiah didn’t really eat any of the asparagus, so it basically went to waste. I loved the meal in its entirety, but I would happily try it with the lemon and zucchini next time. I will also choose a different type of potato and let Ryley fend for herself, haha. The meal suggestions on the side include whole wheat pita and honeydew (meh) or a side of couscous (which actually sounds awesome with this). Here’s the recipe from “400 Calorie Fix Cookbook,” enjoy!IMG_3225

Halibut Packets with Orange and Asparagus

Prep Time: 20 minutes + 1 minute standing/Cook Time: 12 minutes
Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 skinless halibut fillets (6 ounces each)
1 pound asparagus
1/2 cup diced tomato

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut 4 sheets of parchment (12″x20″ each) in half, short side to short side. Open back up and coat the sheet with cooking spray.

2. Combine the orange juice, shallots, vinegar, mustard, orange zest, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 3 teaspoons of the oil.

3. Place a halibut fillet on half of each sheet of parchment. Toss the asparagus spears with the remianing 1 teaspoon oil and divide them among the pieces of parchment, placing them next to the halibut. Spoon the orange juice mixture over the fillets and asparagus, divinding it evenly among the packets. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons of tomato. Fold the parchment loosely over the filling and fold the edges in to seal the packet.

4. Place the packets on a large baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the parckets are puffed. Remove from the oven and carefully vent the top of each with the tip of a sharp knife. Let rest for 1 minutes, place a packet on each of 4 serving plates, and carefully fold back the parchment.

Halibut Packets with Lemon and Zucchini (variation)

Substitute 2 tablespoons lemon juice for the orange juice
Substitute lemon zest for the orange zest
Substitute 4 cups diced zucchini (about 1 pound) for the asparagus.
Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano.

Per Serving (1 serving = 1 packet)/Var. (1 serving = 1 fillet + 1 cup zucchini)
Calories 280/270, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Sodium 450mg/460mg, Carbohydrate 10g/8g, Dietary Fiber 3g/2g, Protein 38g/37g, Calcium 10%

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