This past week in Miami we have had record breaking temperatures. Record. 98˚. And while I know it’s the summer, that’s still a record. So that brings me to the question, do you turn your oven on when it’s that hot outside? Do you grill? Use your slow cooker? How do you make do in the summertime?
Enter the air fryer. What I thought might be my saving grace…or would it? I have a love/hate relationship with the air fryer. I want to love it, I really do. But every time I use it, let’s just say I’m deeply disappointed with the outcomes. Maybe I need to purchase (or check out from the library) America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, Air Fryer Perfection, because everything they produce is perfection, so maybe the book would help?
Disclaimer: I do not typically fry food. So maybe I’m not the best judge of the air fryer? I get the hype, you can make chicken that is “fried” but in a healthier version. “Frying” a vegetable, I mean what wouldn’t you love about that? Again, maybe I need to look for better recipes to follow and/or maybe I need to get over the idea that you can’t make a lot at once, but whatever the case, my air fryer was not the answer for cooking in this heat…and I truly wanted it to be.
Enter my small toaster/convection oven. Cooking for one this has been my go-to oven. Especially in the summer. It’s a win-win because I don’t have to turn on my larger oven and doesn’t heat up the house, as much. I have been trying to minimize my appliances, and even though I do have quite a few, I use this oven as a toaster as well. One less appliance, I’ll take it.
On to the salmon recipe. When I think summer, I think light, refreshing, yet still full of flavor. Using food that is fresh and in season - all the summer veggies please - makes all the difference. This salmon recipe is just that. If you’ve never tried cooking with parchment paper it’s a game changer. The food is enclosed in a packet of the parchment paper (foil could be used as well) and then cooked in the oven - it’s essentially steaming the fish as the air is trapped in this packet. I used salmon in this recipe, but you can use any fish, 1-inch thickness, in it’s place. I used zucchini, tomatoes, and shallots, you can use whatever veggies suit your fancy. It’s the beauty of this recipe, it can be easily switched around. And if you weren’t pronouncing ‘en papillote’ correctly, I’ve got your back.
Pronunciation: ON poppy-YOTE
Word Meaning: En papillote means “in paper” or “in parchment” in French. In Italian it is al cartoccio..
So yes, the oven will still need to be turned on, but the best part? These packets make for less dishes = easy clean-up!
Salmon en Papillote (Salmon in Parchment)
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
24 grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 shallot or 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 salmon fillets, each about 6 ounces each and 1 1/2 inches thick
Preheat oven to 375˚F.
In a bowl, toss zucchini, grape tomatoes, and shallot with the olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
In the center of the parchment paper (4 half-sheets, 12x16 inches each), place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture and top with a salmon fillet. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (optional, but highly recommended).
Bring together the long ends of the parchment paper to create a 1/2-inch fold. Make several more 1/2-inch folds to form a tight seal, then twist the ends of the packet to close completely. Place the packets on a sheet pan.
On the center rack in the oven, bake the fish for 20 minutes.
Remove the packet from the oven, and unwrap it or cut off the top. Serve immediately.
*You can switch out the salmon with any white fish .
*The seasoning can be as simple as salt, pepper, and lemon, but the addition of herbs such as thyme or dill are always great.
*For the vegetables, choose something that’s quicker cooking, such as greens, tomatoes, thinly sliced mushrooms, summer squashes, or peppers, but probably not root vegetables or winter squashes.
*The combinations are endless, so pick up some parchment paper and start folding.
Pre-cooked Salmon en Papillote. The after, steamed look, isn’t as pretty. Bon Appétit!