The Yankee Chef: I need fish!

After the Holiday eating, I truly need to lighten it up a bit. Something simple (as always), fragrant and filling, in a non-guilty kind of way. Fish is the perfect answer. I think you will enjoy the great flavors "steamed" with the great touches of Mexico.

Haddock Sabrosa en Papillote

Again, as I have stated in many other columns I have written, don't let the name fool you. This recipe is very simple to prepare and looks as though you know your way around the kitchen.

Cooking en papillote("in parchment") is not only a quick method-it also distributes the flavors evenly and keeps everything moist. It is a fun way to serve an entree, as diners open their packets to see what's inside. You can use either parchment paper or foil. Do not use waxed paper though. Feel free to substitute any white fish in this recipe, such as tilapia, cod, hake or even halibut.

2 cups tightly packed cilantro 1/3 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas* 1/3 cup cup grated Pecorino, Romano or Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon black pepper Grated rind from one lemon Juice from one lemon 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 1/2 pounds haddock fillets(8 fillets) 2 cups cooked jasmine rice 12 ounces fresh green beans 1 lemon, sliced into 8 thin rounds

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Prepare pesto. Place cilantro and pumpkin seeds in a bowl of a food processor of blender. Pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, pepper and lemon zest, pulse again until combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Through the feed tube, add lemon juice and oil to the mixture while pulsing, until fully combined and smooth. The pesto will be thick.

Scoop pesto into a large bowl and add haddock fillets to pesto and coat evenly. Cut parchment paper or foil into four (18-inch) long pieces. In the middle of each piece, place 1/2 cup jasmine rice, 1/4 of the green beans and 2 grouper fillets. Place a lemon slice on top of each fillet. Fold the paper or foil in half, covering the fish, and crimp the edges all around to seal the packet. If using parchment paper, it may help to secure the edges using a metal paper clip.

Place pouches on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes. Open one packet to check doneness; fish should be flaky and green beans tender. Transfer each packet to a dinner plate and serve immediately, instructing diners to be careful of the steam as they peel back the paper.

*if you can't find shelled pumpkin seeds, substitute sunflower kernels.

Storing pesto Pesto is best the day it is made, as the color can fade from emerald to olive green. But if you store pesto correctly, the taste will still be great. Short-term storage: Store in a plastic container with a tight lid, refrigerated, for 3-4 days. Drizzle with a little olive oil to help retain the brighter color. Long-term storage: Make a big batch of pesto. Pour the pesto in an ice cube tray lined with plastic wrap. Place another piece of plastic wrap over the top of the ice tray. Freeze for several hours, or until solid, then transfer the cubes to a resealable plastic freezer bag. Use individual cubes as needed.


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