A spontaneous dinner party and a simple, elegant dish can go hand in hand – so put this idea in your bag of tricks for the next time you want to have a fabulous time with your closest friends in the kitchen!
I’m trying to remember who’s plate this was, I’m pretty sure it was Tim’s. I sat next to him at the dinner table and I lost count how many times he said…”Oh, man, this is so good.” Three minutes later, “Really, this is so good” and so it went…like he needed to convince me. I got a huge kick out of it.
If you’re in the mood for a filling dish with lean protein, a bite of whole grain, crisp vegetables and bright & savory seasonings, this dinner idea is for you. The kicker…it bakes itself to perfection.
Jenny texted me yesterday morning and said they would love to get together for dinner…it happened to be perfect timing for us as well so a plan was hatched. She brought an incredible kale salad packed with veggies and a Thai Peanut Dressing which was out of this universe AMAZING. She’ll be getting me her recipe soon and I’ll get it posted.
So we had 5 guests come over including Ben, Brooke & Jack, and Francesco who is an exchange student from Italy! I ran to the store to get the fresh ingredients and prepped them ahead of time so it would be easy to assemble.
What you’ll need:
- Fish – I used Halibut (fresh frozen as we are landlocked by 1000 miles). Rinse & pat dry the fish.
- Your choice of cooked grain or small pasta. I used Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) although an Orzo pasta would also be great.
- Your choice of veggies. The trick is they need to be thinly sliced so they can cook quickly. I am IN LOVE with this julienne tool. (click this link) It’s easy to use and it works! The veggies I used were a choice for color & texture – zucchini, carrot, red pepper & leeks. Once they were sliced, in batches, I flash blanched them in roiling boiling water for literally 15 seconds, no more – then plunged them into an ice bath to instantly stop the cooking & seal the color. I then simply plated them in individual bowls and set aside.
- Your choice of bright & fresh seasonings, each in their own little bowl. We had cilantro, basil, green onion, lemongrass, garlic, sesame seeds, lemon & lime slices, salt & pepper of course.
- Your choice of fat – only if you want it. This can easily be made without any fat – at all. I had small cubed cold butter and olive oil available.
- Your choice of dressing. I had a honey, soy, gochujang mixture with miso that I shook up and had available in a dressing container.
- Parchment paper (not waxed butchers paper). Jenny says you can even look for pre-formed parchment bags!
- Turn on the oven to 375F.
- Pull out a sheet of parchment about 24 inches long.
- You’ll want to build your for bundle slightly towards the right side of the parchment. When it’s folded over, you’ll want plenty of edge to wrap it up and seal tightly.
- Place a few spoonfuls of your whole grain or pasta for a base.
- Then layer in the veggies.
- You can sprinkle in some seasonings over the veggies or drizzle with a little olive oil or a few small cubes of butter.
- Then place the fish on top of the veggies and season again however you please.
- Drizzle with your dressing, add a few slices of lime or lemon on top and fold over the parchment to make a triangle shape.
- On one edge, work in small creases folding the parchment over on itself and rolling as you go, work it along until it’s fully sealed to the other side of the parchment.
- With a marker, write your name on the top so when it comes out of the oven you’ll know which one is yours.
- Bake 5 to 7 minutes per inch thickness of your fish. We baked ours about 10 minutes and it was great.
- Plate your package and be careful slicing it open as steam will come out.
Pair with a fantastic white wine, a wonderful salad and some french bread and you have an elegant, fun, healthy and delicious dinner!
Here’s Jenny toasting the seeds and nuts for her incredible kale salad (recipe coming soon)…and Tim creating his masterpiece in the background.
Between all of us in the kitchen, not sure how there’s not a glass of wine somewhere in this photo! What are the odds of that?…..weird.