The health benefits of eating fish two or three times a week are well-documented. So, as a mom of four kiddos, I'm always looking for creative ways to add fish into our weekly menu.
I love Alaskan cod especially this time of year because it's in season, it's loaded with omegas and lean protein, and my girls all love the mild flavor. But any mild white fish will work for today's recipe, Cod with Pomegranate and Zucchini en Papillote. My kids love the pretty color play between the bright green lime and rich-ruby pomegranate, while I love the fact that I can make a fantastic dinner that isn't loaded down with extra fat or empty calories.
I use the papillote method, which is simply loading up a sheet of parchment with fish, aromatics and some quick-cooking veggies and sealing them up into a pouch and baking. Cooking in the cozy, moist heat of the parchment pouch means the fish stays tender as it baths gently in the steam created by the vegetables and a tiny splash of wine, like a flavorful spa.
The result is fish that is almost impossible to overcook, giving a busy weeknight cook a forgiving window of time for serving dinner. Cooking in a papillote also means you can cook with no additional fat, making fish-en-papillote a super strategy for anyone watching their caloric intake.
If you feel like living it up a little, add a drizzle of olive oil or a tiny pat of butter — you'll be amazed by how even a tiny bit of fat can make the rest of the ingredients sing. Make a large papillote to eat family-style, or make smaller, individual papillotes for a dinner party — either way, you'll feel like dinner is a tiny bit special.
Cod with pomegranate and zucchini en papillote
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 1/2 pounds cod, or other mild white fish, cut into 4 portions, or kept in one large portion
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced zucchini, about two small zucchini
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced, seeds removed
2 tablespoons white wine
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
salt and pepper
Special equipment: parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly salt and pepper the cod fillet and set aside. Cut a sheet of parchment paper that is a couple of inches longer than the length of the fish, and a little more than twice the width. Use one large piece of parchment if fillet is whole; or four individual pieces of parchment if you've cut the fish into individual portions. Place the sliced shallots along the middle of the parchment paper, and layer the zucchini on top of the shallots - this is the bed where you'll place the cod. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Place the fish on top of the zucchini. Top the fish with the sliced lime, white wine, pomegranate arils, and a little salt and pepper. Close the parchment paper by folding the paper in half over the fish. Create a closed pouch by starting at one corner, and folding the paper into small triangles, tightly pinching them closed as you go around the edges. The result will be a semi-circle shaped sealed pouch.
Place the pouch on a baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, or a few minutes less if fish is thin. Remove from the oven, carefully cut open the pouch and serve.
Chef's note: Recipe can also be made in a baking dish: Simply layer, cover and bake.
Nutrition information per serving: 201 calories; 15 calories from fat; 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 73 mg cholesterol; 687 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 33 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, "Supermarket Healthy." Online: http://www.melissadarabian.net