8 & $20: Cod en Papillote with a Zesty White

Parchment paper–wrapped fish and vegetables combine for an elegant meal in less than 30 minutes
8 & $20: Cod en Papillote with a Zesty White
Steaming the fish in the oven with white wine and lemon creates a juicy fillet while flavoring the vegetables. (Julie Harans)
Dec 12, 2018

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.

Cooking is often about the total transformation of ingredients. But it’s refreshing to showcase the natural essence of a few components, especially those with delicate flavors, like the cod and zucchini in this recipe.

The key to making simple dishes delicious is seasoning at each stage. For these parchment paper–wrapped packets, you’ll salt and pepper in between layers, building flavor into each bite. The carrot and zucchini add sweetness, but you can swap in pretty much any vegetable that can be cut into thin strips, as well as your favorite herb (or herbs) in place of rosemary.

The parchment-paper packets act as individual steamers in the oven, melding all the flavors as they roast together. The cooking liquids create a juicy fillet and a savory-sweet, citrusy sauce that drips down to the vegetables, infusing them with flavor. Once you pull the packets from the oven, you have a fully composed dish. Unlike most “set it and forget it” dishes, it’s ready in less than 30 minutes.

Just as the lemon, capers and tomatoes add juicy acidity that complements the cod, a bright, zesty white like a Sauvignon Blanc will balance all the flavors well. I went with one from a producer based in the Loire Valley, the Saget La Perrière Sauvignon Blanc Vin de France La Petite Perrière 2017; its herbaceous character brought out the rosemary element in the dish, while its citrus notes enhanced the lemon.

So grab a bottle—or a few—because this dish works as both a last-minute weeknight meal or a showstopper at your next dinner party. Serve the packets as is, and let guests unwrap the surprise!

Cod en Papillote


Pair with a bright, acidic white such as Saget La Perrière Sauvignon Blanc Vin de France La Petite Perrière 2017 (87 points, $13).


Prep time: 12 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 27 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25

  • 1 zucchini, julienned into 1/8-inch strips
  • 1 large carrot, julienned into 1/4-inch strips
  • 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 cod fillets, 1/4 pound each
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 4 teaspoons capers
  • Olive oil
  • White wine
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut four 1-foot-by-1-foot pieces of parchment paper.

2. For each piece of parchment paper: Add about 5 zucchini strips, 5 carrot strips and 8 tomato halves. Season with salt and pepper, and place a piece of cod on top. Season cod with salt and pepper, top with 3 lemon slices and 1 teaspoon of capers. Sprinkle with olive oil and white wine, and place a rosemary sprig on top.

3. Fold opposite sides of the parchment paper so they cover the fish, then make several small, tight folds on the two other sides to seal up the packets. Place packets on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 12 minutes, or 14 minutes for slightly larger fillets. When done, the fish should easily flake with a fork.

4. Transfer each packet to a plate and open carefully, being cautious of the hot steam. Serves 4.

Cooking Pairings White Wines Sauvignon Blanc Recipes

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