Fish in Parchment

This fish in parchment is a healthy method for cooking fish to delicate perfection along with summer squash, zucchini, and olives in a buttery white wine sauce. And it makes just one serving, though you can easily multiply the ingredients to make more.

A rimmed baking sheet with fish in parchment and a fish spatula resting beside it.

I serve these fish parcels just as they are, so people can open them up at the table. The steam billows out and the aroma hits diners smack in the face. It’s really theatrical, and so much fun. I love the colors and flavors of this dish. The black olives and basil add a salty, herbal tang, although the overall effect is surprisingly delicate.–Bryn Williams

When to add the basil to your parchment package?

There’s a single point of controversy in this eminently versatile, really quite customizable, otherwise foolproof fish in parchment recipe. And the point of contention is when to add the basil. Slip it into the parcel prior to cooking and your guests will be wooed by its licorice-like fragrance the moment they slit their parcels-although they may also be confronted with a potentially soggy basil leaf clinging to their sole. The alternative is to thinly slice or tear the basil and pass it on the side for guests to shower over the sole after the packets have been slit open, an approach that appreciates aesthetics over aroma. Suit yourself!

Fish in Parchment

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper or aluminum foil, each one measuring close to a 12-inch-by-12-inch square.

In a large bowl, combine the scallion, summer squash, green zucchini, black olives, and basil. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil, and mix well.

Divide the vegetables among the pieces of parchment paper or foil, placing a small but heaping mound in the center of each square.

Place 3 sole fillets on each mound, and fold each portion in half to prevent it from overcooking. Season the sole with salt and pepper. Divide the butter evenly among the mounds and dribble a scant tablespoon of wine over each. 

Fold the paper or foil over the sole to create sealed parcels (fold in opposite sides at the same time, then repeat with the two remaining sides. Seal the parcels tightly by folding over the edges and crimping them together. Be sure to leave a little space inside the parcels for the steam.

Place the parcels on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the hot oven until the sole is cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes. (If using foil, it may take a few minutes longer.) 

Immediately serve the parcels at once, placing them on plates and offering each guest a sharp knife to slit the parcels-and an equally sharp warning about not holding their faces too near the steam-puffed parcels as they set about making said slit. Originally published July 24, 2019.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Easy to put together and easy on the waistline, this is a perfect meal when there’s plenty of local zucchini around. I left out the olives but tossed the basil with the vegetables. Oh yes, I also cut back on the butter, but it didn’t matter. There was plenty of flavor and a light sauce.

I put about 1 tablespoon wine in each packet, which made more sense to me than dividing 3 tablespoons of wine by 4 as called for in the recipe. I served some whole wheat couscous on the side. This would be great with any thinly sliced vegetable, just be careful to cook it through.

I’ve cooked fish in parchment or foil for years and always enjoy finding a new recipe. I did cook this for a few minutes longer than the recipe suggests. I love cooking this way because it makes it easy to customize each portion with minor changes to suit each family member’s taste (e.g., more olives for one person, a little less scallion for another) and there’s little to no cleanup. The dish had a very mild flavor; next time I may add a little garlic. And I will make this again.


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  1. Great recipe but I decided not to use the olives as they are not something I like. I think that is what makes this recipe a great one because you can use this on a bunch of different fish. Thanks for a great and easy recipe.

    1. kristy, our pleasure. I completely agree with you: I think any recipe that can handle a goodly amount of substituting and still stand on its own is a good one. Glad you like this one, one of our faves.

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