First off, this recipe came to me about four years ago from That Skinny Chick Can Bake; who adapted it from her friend over at Manu’s Menu. So I wanted to give credit where credit is due and thank you both for the superb inspiration. As always, I did a little tweaking of my own, and I hope you do the same. The original recipe was part of Manu’s Italian Christmas Menu. I mention this with good reason . . .
Granted, this isn’t Christmas time, but since sampling this delightful salmon parcel, it has become a regular part of our Christ-Mass Eve or Lenten tables. The beauty of this dish is not only its overall simplicity but how quickly it comes together. It’s not every day that I find something so incredibly delicious that can be prepared in under thirty minutes. The flavor and presentation are beautiful. And best of all, even non-fish-eaters like Kiddo will devour it gladly. Speaking of Kiddo . . .
Recently I reminded him that Lent was about to begin. As I said, Kiddo isn’t a big fish-eater. However; he does enjoy sweet, meaty shellfish such as lobster and crab. Kiddo asked if shellfish were allowed during Lent, to which I responded yes. Kiddo being Kiddo, quick to point out the flaws in what seems to be logical conclusion – lobster isn’t the meat of a warm-blooded animal so therefore is permitted, then said “So I can’t eat a hamburger, but Lobster Tails are alright? Where’s the penance in that?” Good question. Naturally, I did a little digging. While Lobster isn’t prohibited, the consumption of foods considered to be a luxury by today’s standards, is strongly discouraged in the spirit of penance. So maybe we won’t be serving a succulent, sweet lobster with drawn butter, but a beautiful Salmon Filet is fine.
Filetti di Salmone Pacchi
4 skinless salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Herb de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
12 thin slices of lemon
Cut 4 pieces of aluminium foil and start working with one.
Pour 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in the center of the foil.
Put one of the salmon fillets on it and flip it over so as to coat it evenly in the oil. Season salmon with Herb de Provence, salt and pepper. Top each fillet with 3 thin slices of lemon and a few Thyme sprigs. Close the foil well, to form a little parcel. Make sure that there are no openings as you want the steam to stay inside the parcel to cook the fish.
Repeat the same process for the 3 remaining fillets.
Put all the little parcels in an oven tray and bake them in a pre-heated oven 400°F for about 15-20 minutes (the exact time will depend on the thickness of the fillets). Take the parcels out and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving them.
Transfer the little packets to a serving platter and place on the table when they are still closed. Diners can open their little presents, taking in all the wonderful aromas of “steamed” salmon and lemons. If you desire, these can be eaten directly from the pouch or place on your plates. Just be sure to pour all the wonderful lemony-juices over the fish.
For a light yet satisfying meal, serve with a simple Provence Mixed Greens Salad and warm French Bread with sweet, creamy butter.
My favorite Provence Mixed Green Salad recipe was inspired by a wonderful recipe I found on everydayfrench.com. It is simple to make and the flavors are perfect together.
Provence Mixed Green Salad
8 ounces mesclun (4 large handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Feta Cheese, if desired
Mesclun is the Provencal word for ‘mixture,’ and this salad is composed of a mix of tender shoots. A traditional mesclun salad has at least seven varieties of greens chosen from among the following: chervil (cerfeuil), arugula (roquette), dandelion (pissenlit), chicory (chicorée), radicchio (trévise), curly endive (frisée), Boston lettuce (laitue), romaine, escarole (scarole), lamb’s lettuce (mâche), feuille de chêne, tarragon (estragon), or other tender spring greens. The only one that is absolutely essential is the chervil. (Chervil is a delicate herb used frequently in French cuisine. A member of the parsley family, chervil has a mild flavor with hints of liquorice or anise. If you absolutely cannot find chervil, use a blend of parsley and tarragon – the parsley will give you the look and texture of Chervil, while the tarragon will impart that hint of liquorice).
Wash the greens and spin dry. Press garlic over the greens and mix with your hands, gently “rubbing” the garlic onto the tender leaves.
Mix the other ingredients together in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Set the greens on top and refrigerate.
Mix at the table when ready to serve. Pass the Feta table-side for those who want a little something extra. Serves 4 generously.