Thursday was one of those days when I just didn't want to make a big mess. I was home from work, recuperating from another epidural steroid injection. These procedures cause me a lot of pain for the 2-3 days afterwards, so I was sore and stiff and a little stoned on Tylenol with codeine. But being a blog martyr, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to prepare something delicious for lunch despite being in pain. I based the dish around my limitations (no bending to load or unload the dishwasher, no pulling out kitchen appliances not already on the counter) as well as the two fresh herbs I had on hand: sage and chives. They were starting to go bad and I just can't bear to watch beautiful fresh herbs go to waste. The best motivation of all was my New Year's commitment to participate for the first time in the Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted this week by the ever-motivated and talented Kalyn.
Parchment paper is seriously underrated, my friends. There is a real thrill in a complete meal wrapped up in a little self-contained packet. The joy of pulling out of the oven a perfectly cooked filet of buttery herbed salmon over flavorful vegetables wrapped neatly in a pouch of parchment paper is not so different from the satisfaction of the tasty knishes I posted about in November. Not quite as carb-laden, of course, but still satisfying and aesthetically pleasing.
In the top picture you'll see that I served the fish alongside the vegetables that it was cooked with it, accompanied by a generous portion of Coconut Mashed Yams on the side. You might also try roasting some potato wedges and throwing the parchment-wrapped fish and veggies on top of the potatoes for the last 12-15 minutes of cooking.
A step by step pictorial:
SALMON WITH SAGE AND VEGETABLES IN PARCHMENT PAPER
1 (8-12 ounce) boneless salmon fillet
1 small leek
1 small carrot
1/2 small parsnip
2 large cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 fresh garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves (tightly-packed)
1 small lemon, juice of
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped finely
parchment paper (One 15x24 inch piece)
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried or fresh
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the tough, darker green tops from the leek and slice the tender lighter-colored section into very thin rounds. Cut (julienne) carrot and parsnip into matchsticks approximately 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. Slice crimini mushrooms in half lengthwise and then into 1/4 inch slices.
Combine butter, lemon juice, thyme, sage, pepper and salt in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly pureed.
Mix vegetables together. Lay them in a nest about the size of the salmon filet on one side of the parchment paper. Place 1/3 of the sage-butter mixture on top of the vegetables.
Place salmon on top of vegetables and spread with the rest of the sage-butter mixture. Sprinkle chopped chives on top, distributing evenly. Fold the other side of the parchment paper over on top of the salmon. Roll and crimp edges together to create a tightly-sealed half-moon shaped packet. Place packet on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
To serve, place the packet on a dinner plate and create two slashes on the top of the paper in the shape of an X with a sharp knife. Peel back paper and enjoy. Alternately, you can cut the salmon into 2-3 pieces and place on individual plates next to a generous spoonful of the vegetables.