Pacific cod with zucchini and tomatoes 'en papillote' and a meal plan for two

This quick cod recipe is baked in parchment paper packets and topped with a fast and easy compound parsley butter. Serve as dinner for two, or prepare the packets ahead for a big group. 

Beyond the Peel
This recipe also works with haddock, Pacific halibut, lingcod, or sablefish.

Joshua and I have decided to create a meal plan for people like us who love to eat good food.

It’s not just another meal plan. It’s a meal plan that really celebrates food. Not in a fussy, be-in-the-kitchen-all-day kind of way, but in a way that really let’s the ingredients shine and the experience of eating becomes an enjoyable occasion in itself. It’s called Real Food Meal Plans For Two.

I wanted to create something that was completely authentic to the way we live and eat. I also wanted to gear it towards couples (but it also works for couples with a baby and for singles).

For years I have heard time and time again, that I should write about food for families and children. But I’ll just be honest here, I know nothing about kids and families. Other than my family of two (me and my husband), of course. I also know very little about catering to young, picky eaters (but converting my husband to love mushrooms, beets, yams, and eggplant, that I know something about!) So I’m going to write about what I know best, about meals and recipes for two people who love to eat well and who enjoy cooking – but don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.

Some of you out there might think (so I’ve heard) that Beyond the Peel is a vegetarian website, but it’s not (though I must not post about meat very often). My husband and I love to eat meat. We just don’t eat it every day. We also love dairy, but try for moderation ("try" being the key term here). We dig on eggs, and find the irresistible lure of veggies to be the root of most of our creations.

And of course, this meal plans won't leave out my two big loves, seafood and chocolate, but not together of course! You’ll find all of these in our meal plans, because there should always be room for bacon, butter, cheese, chocolate, desserts, and meat – as long as there’s plenty of veggies!

Pacific cod with zucchini and tomatoes en papillote is a recipe from Week 2 of September’s meal plan. I chose to share it with you so that you would get a feel for what you can expect. I’ll be sharing more details with you on the meal plans (and a sneak peak inside) in the next few days. So, keep an eye on the blog for the meal plan.

Now, about the fish.

"En papillote" might sound fancy (as do so many things when said in French), but it really just means, "cooked in paper." Throw everything into a paper bag (a bundle made of parchment paper) and bake. Nothing to it.

Done right the flavors are completely decadent while still being healthy. Not to mention fast. Super fast. Hands on time is 10 minutes, then it bakes for 15 minutes. Serve. The presentation is unusual and fun, perfect for a casual and easy but also romantic dinner for two. Or lunch, as we did today. Oh, and what a wonderful lunch it was! And somehow my husband becomes more wonderful every day, too. 

But it’s doesn’t have to be all romance!

You can also try it with a big group of 10 or more. Perfect for a backyard gathering. Since the packets can be made up in advance (up to a day), preparing a tray of these little packets will leave you only to worry about the 15 minutes of baking time once your guests arrive. This leaves you to entertain with grace (something we all aspire to do … which I’m still working on).

If you and your partner love to eat well, please consider a membership for our Real Food Meal Plans For Two. (As of Aug. 13, the membership is now open. Visit for more information on how to subscribe.)

Pacific cod with zucchini and tomatoes en papillote

If you are wondering about over fishing and which species you should and should not buy check out the Ocean Wise site for a list of seafood, organized by type and the program. Here’s a link for the Pacific Cod.

Feel free to try this recipe with haddock, Pacific halibut, lingcod, or sablefish. Avoid tuna or salmon or real fatty fish as they will strongly flavor the vegetables.

1 large leek, whites only, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 medium zucchini, sliced, (approximately 2 cups worth)

8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or 4 cocktail tomatoes, quartered)

2 4- to 5-ounce pieces of cod

Salt and pepper

1 lemon sliced

2 sprigs of dill

Compound parsley butter (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper and set aside. 

2. Cut two pieces of parchment paper into 12- by 16-inch rectangles. Brush the center of the parchment paper with olive oil. Place 1/2 cup of leeks in the center, followed by 1 cup of the zucchini (or half the chopped amount), and then the cherry tomatoes. Top the vegetables with a sprig of dill and the cod fillet. Tuck the tail of the cod fillet under so the dish cooks evenly. Place 3 slices of lemon on top of the fish and half the compound butter. Seal the packets by bringing up the sides and tightly folding them down. Seal the ends by folding each tightly.

3. Repeat with the remaining packet. Lay both packets on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Packets will be puffed up and slightly browned. Serve each packet on a plate.

Quick compound parsley butter

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon chopped parley

1 garlic clove, minced

Mix the butter, chopped parsley and garlic in a bowl. Add to cod before baking.

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