Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1 Pot meals are great, but how about a No Pot meal? Cook your dinner in a packet!

Cook your entire meal in individual foil or parchment packets, and cleanup is a snap!  This is a great way to cook fish because it seals in the moisture, requires little or no oil, and the fish is blanketed in the flavors of the other ingredients.
Last night I made hake fillets cooked in foil packets together with several different vegetables, pesto and pearl couscous.   It was a delicious and healthy meal, and easy to put together.
The idea for this dinner started because I wanted to use some of my own pesto I have in the freezer, and also I have been a bit of a slacker regarding my resolution to eat more fish.
I thought I had tried basically every fish there is, until I saw hake at Whole Foods yesterday.  It was half the price of cod, and the fish man said it is similar (the recipe uses red snapper, but that was not available).  Since hake is pretty thick, it required more cooking time than the snapper would have.
I have this recipe from Bon Appetit:
Based on the reviews and my own ideas I decided to make a couple of changes, and only 2 servings.
I wanted couscous but didn't want to have to cook it separately, so I added it to the packets.  I toasted it beforehand, so I did use 1 pan, but only for a minute so I'm still calling it a no pot meal.  I wasn't sure how it would come out, if it would cook without being mushy, but it turned out just perfect.  Also, this gave me an opportunity to use my new walnut oil (thanks Diane!).
The finished product came out great, here's a look:
Fish & Vegetables with Pesto Baked in Foil Packets

1t walnut oil
1/4C pearl couscous
1/3C pesto
1T fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sriracha hot pepper sauce
Olive oil spray
2 handfuls baby spinach
2 6-ounce hake fillets
8 asparagus spears, each trimmed to 4-inch length
2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 yellow squash, thinly sliced on diagonal


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat walnut oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
Add couscous and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted.

Blend pesto, lemon juice and hot pepper sauce in small bowl.
Prepare the vegetables.

Arrange two 12x12-inch pieces of heavy-duty foil on work surface.
Lightly spray center of both pieces of foil with olive oil.
Mound a handful of spinach over the sprayed foil.
Place 1 fish fillet on top of the spinach.
Sprinkle fish lightly with salt and pepper and spread with 1T pesto mixture.
Top with asparagus, tomatoes and squash, and then spoon remaining pesto mixture over the vegetables.
Spoon the couscous around the fish.
With colors like this, it has to be good right?

Fold sides of foil over fish and vegetables, covering completely; seal packets closed.
Transfer foil packets to a large baking sheet.

Bake until fish is just opaque in center and vegetables are crisp-tender, about 40 minutes.  To check if the fish is done, open the packet a little, push the veggies over to the side, and stick a fork in the fish.  If it flakes easily, it's done.  If not, seal it back up and put the tray back in the oven for a few minutes.
Place each packet on a dinner plate, open up, and enjoy!

Those of you who know Corey know he doesn't eat fish...he did not eat this.  He was excited to come home and see some of his favorite foods on the counter - squash, asparagus, couscous, but then the fish.  I am happy to have the 2nd packet for leftovers today.  I know people use this  method for cooking chicken, but I'm not sure I would like it that way.  Maybe I'll try it sometime.

Have you ever cooked with this method?  Let me know!

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