The vibrant flavors of spring – lemon, dill, tender-crisp asparagus and rainbow baby carrots – paired with fresh sea bass in convenient parchment paper bags… Mediterranean Fish In Parchment With Spring Vegetables is quick enough for a weeknight supper, yet elegant enough for a small dinner party!
Spring in McAllen, Texas is a little bit like summer in most parts of the country. I’ve all but abandoned the comforting soups and stews of the cooler months, opting instead for lighter fare. My raised-bed herb garden is spilling over and lush, and the dill that “ate New York” was screaming to be pruned back. Dill and lemon almost always make an appearance on our Easter table, so I decided once again to feature this lovely flavor combination with some beautiful fresh fish.
When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
~~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
Let’s Make This – Mediterranean Fish In Parchment With Spring Vegetables
Given our close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, fresh fish options are many. I chose to use mahi mahi for Easter dinner based on cost and number of servings. It was delicious! However, I subsequently made this dish with fresh, wild-caught sea bass, and the dish was exquisite. Select the freshest, firm white fish available, and you will not be disappointed! My spring vegetables included beautiful, young rainbow carrots, and asparagus. My market always has tiny pearl onions, and they were included as well. I love color on my plates, and I always look to include a variety of colors and textures. The julienned red bell pepper added the bright red to the plate that is always so appealing. You might choose to use fresh sugar snap peas, English peas, button mushrooms, julienned zucchini, etc.
It is important when cooking in parchment to consider the cooking times required for each of the ingredients. My fish portions were about 1 1/2 inches thick, and required only 15 minutes to cook in their parchment bags. The carrots may be a little too crisp with this cooking time. If you choose a thinner fish portion, your cooking time will be a little less, and that means the vegetables receive less time as well. I solved this issue by steaming my asparagus and carrots for about 5 minutes while I made the pan sauce. Additionally, I selected young, thin asparagus, and sliced the young carrots lengthwise to get them cooked to crisp-tender more quickly. This additional step yielded perfectly crisp-tender vegetables, and perfectly cooked fish. The addition of a lemon, herb, white wine, and caper sauce to the packets bathes everything in a luscious, Mediterranean flavored sauce… perfect on the patio on a verdant spring evening!
I found Culinary Parchment Paper Nonstick Cooking Bags at my local market. These little bags save time with both prep and clean up. I always try to stay around 6 ounces per serving with fish, and we LOVE vegetables; as you can see in the photos, the serving size on the veggies is quite large. Using the individual parchment bags, I simply added an appropriate amount of vegetables and 1 fish portion to each bag. I then poured equal amounts of the sauce over top, and popped them into a 425° oven for about 15 minutes. The steam will keep the fish from drying out, so the dish is a bit forgiving on time.
While the fish and vegetables baked, I whipped up a favorite side dish – Lemony Orzo. We loved this dish with Dark Horse Rosé. This limited release rosé boasts a refreshingly dry style that is fruit forward, has a subtle minerality, and finishes with a hint of honey and crispness. It was a lovely pairing. The dish went equally well with a dry, very lightly oaked chardonnay on Easter. If you prefer a craft beer, a saison would be an excellent choice!
Vibrant Mediterranean flavors - dill, lemon, capers - evoke verdant spring images in this flavorful, healthy, and quick spring-time fish and vegetable dish!
15 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
- a handful of pearl onions*
- young asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- young carrots, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 small red bell pepper, julienned
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot (or 1 tablespoon red onion), finely minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons capers
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- a few grinds black pepper
- 2 - 6 ounce fish portions, patted dry and seasoned with salt and ground pepper*
- See Notes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (400 convection roast).
Blanch the pearl onions, and slip from their skins. Set aside.
Steam asparagus and carrots (if desired) for 5 minutes. You can also blanch them for a couple of minutes.
In a small saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter. When it is hot (not smoking), add the minced shallot and garlic. Cook until translucent - about 2 minutes - stirring occasionally.
Add the white wine, and reduce by about half (give or take).
Add the capers, zest and juice of 1 lemon. Bring back to a boil. Then turn off the heat.
Add the dill and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Add the sauce to a small glass measuring cup with a pour spout.
Arrange the vegetables in individual bags or packets.* Place the fish on top, and carefully drizzle in half of the sauce over the fish and veggies. Seal the bag, and place on a baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining fish fillet and veggies. Cook 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish. My 1 1/2" thick fillets needed the full 15 minutes.
You can either serve these in the bag or out of the bag. The choice is yours! The liquid will make the bag soft on the bottom, so use a large spatula on the underside of each bag to place on a plate.
Cut a slit careful in the top of the bag. Arrange the fish and veggies in a pleasing manner. Enjoy!
For more on blanching and peeling onions, see blanch .
Choose the freshest, firm white fish available. Sea bass, cod, halibut, flounder, snapper would all be great choices.
If you don't have parchment bags, see How to Cook Fish in Parchment
Macro Nutrients (MyFitnessPal) - 407 calories; 27 g protein; 24 g carbohydrate; 16 g fat