The term en Papillote literally means “In Parchment” in French. Food is wrapped tightly in a parcel made out of parchment paper and baked in the oven, the steam from the package will cook the food. This is a very fool proof way of preparing fish without worrying about over cooking it. You can substitute brown paper or aluminum foil for parchment paper, but brown paper is not water proof and aluminium foil may add a metallic taste to the food. There is a lot of similarity between this cooking style and the Spanish and Asian version, where the parchment paper is replaced with banana leaves or bamboo leaves, and the leaves themselves act as a flavoring agent.

For a weekday dinner, I decided to make a Tomato-Basil Sauce en Papillote with baked polenta rounds on the side, and use the tomato basil sauce in a Halibut and summer vegetable dish, also cooked en Papillote. Both recipes are pretty simple and don’t require a lot of different ingredients, and it’s easy clean up!

To make the Tomato-Basil sauce en Papillote, two pints of cherry tomatoes are divided in two, half are put into a food processor and coarsely chopped.

The chopped tomatoes are added to a large bowl and tossed to combine with the whole cherry tomatoes.

Chopped garlic, olive oil, chopped shallots, whole sprigs of basil, salt and pepper are mixed thoroughly mixed with the tomatoes.

The mixture is piled in the middle of a large piece of parchment.

The parchment paper is folded over, and the edges turned in and rolled, like you would do a perogi or a fruit pie. You can also fold it in a square or rectangle, as long as you can make sure that the package is tightly sealed, so that the moisture will not leak out.

For the Polenta, I used the pre-cooked type that is sold in a plastic round tube in the Italian section.

The Polenta is cut into 3/4 inch rounds and placed on a lightly oiled baking sheet or silpat.

The polenta rounds are placed on the bottom rack and the tomato basil packet is placed on the top rack of a 425 degree oven, and cooked for 20-30 minutes. The Polenta rounds are placed in a plate and some tomato basil sauce is drizzled on top. I reserved about 1 cup of the sauce for my Halibut en Papillote dish.

This dish can be served as an appetizer or side dish with meat or seafood, or it can be used as a vegetarian main. The sauce it self can be served with other type of pasta as well.

Tomato-Basil Sauce en papillote with Polenta