First off, this recipe came to me from thatskinnychickcanbake.com; who adapted it from her friend over at manusmenu.com. So I wanted to give credit where credit is due and thank you both for the superb inspiration. As always, I did a little tweaking of my own, and I hope you do the same. The original recipe was part of Manu’s Italian Christmas Menu. I mention this with good reason . . .
Years ago, my hubby and I were fortunate enough to be adopted by an amazing Italian couple, Carmine and Mary Lou. Every Christmas Eve; we had the privilege of joining their family in a feast unlike anything I had experienced before. Christmas Eve Supper began around three in the afternoon. Carmine and Mary Lou did all the cooking themselves; taking incredible joy in putting on a spread that took days to prepare and hours to consume. The long banquet tables were set up in their family room, with all the other furnishings removed for the evening to make room for all the people who would gather to celebrate the Holy-Day as it was meant to be. On any given Christmas Eve; more than thirty adults and countless children all gathered to give thanks, break bread, drink wine and enjoy the endless bounty before us. The meal consisted of a variety of pasta dishes, sea food dishes, soups, salads, breads, cheeses and desserts. (Mary Lou made the best cannoli, served with perfectly pulled demi-cups of espresso with just the right of layer creme on top). While the adults enjoyed a selection of wonderful Italian pastries, the children celebrated with a luscious birthday cake, complete with candles – one for each child present. In keeping with their Italian-Catholic roots, meat was the only food absent from the table.
Again, in keeping with their Italian-Catholic roots, somewhere around eleven the eating, drinking and merriment ceased. We somehow managed to push away from the table – although it felt more like rolling away, having gained twenty pounds during a single, eight-hour-long eat-a-thon. We then piled into our resective cars and formed a caravan to make the short the trip from their lovely home in the hills down to the valley to hear midnight Mass. While we no longer live in the same city as Carmine and Mary Lou, hubby and I have carried on the tradition (although be it on a much smaller scale) in our home each Christmas Eve. It is with a warm heart that I look back on those days and feel truly blessed that Hubby, Kiddo and I were able to be a part of such a warm and gracious family.
Granted, this isn’t Christmas time, but since sampling this delightful salmon parcel, I can easily see it as a part of our Christ-Mass Eve table for years to come. The beauty of this dish is not only the simplicity but how quickly it comes together. It’s not every day that I find something so incredibly delicious that can be prepared in under thirty minutes. The flavor and presentation are beautiful. And best of all, even non-fish-eaters like Kiddo will devour it gladly.
Filetti di Salmone Pacchi
4 skinless salmon fillets (about 5 ounces each)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Herb de Provence
Salt and pepper to taste
12 thin slices of lemon
Cut 4 pieces of aluminium foil and start working with one.
Pour 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in the center of the foil.
Put one of the salmon fillets on it and flip it over so as to coat it evenly in the oil. Season salmon with Herb de Provence, salt and pepper. Top each fillet with 3 thin slices of lemon and a few Thyme sprigs. Close the foil well, to form a little parcel. Make sure that there are no openings as you want the steam to stay inside the parcel to cook the fish.
Repeat the same process for the 3 remaining fillets.
Put all the little parcels in an oven tray and bake them in a pre-heated oven 400°F for about 15-20 minutes (the exact time will depend on the thickness of the fillets). Take the parcels out and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving them.
Transfer the little packets to a serving platter and place on the table when they are still closed. Diners can open their little presents, taking in all the wonderful aromas of “steamed” salmon and lemons. If you desire, these can be eaten directly from the pouch or place on your plates. Just be sure to pour all the wonderful lemony-juices over the fish.
For a light yet satisfying meal, serve with a simple Provence Mixed Greens Salad and warm French Bread with sweet, creamy butter.
My favorite Provence Mixed Green Salad recipe was inspired by a wonderful recipe I found on everydayfrench.com. It is simple to make and the flavors are perfect together.
Provence Mixed Green Salad
8 ounces mesclun (4 large handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Feta Cheese, if desired
Mesclun is the Provencal word for ‘mixture,’ and this salad is composed of a mix of tender shoots. A traditional mesclun salad has at least seven varieties of greens chosen from among the following: chervil (cerfeuil), arugula (roquette), dandelion (pissenlit), chicory (chicorée), radicchio (trévise), curly endive (frisée), Boston lettuce (laitue), romaine, escarole (scarole), lamb’s lettuce (mâche), feuille de chêne, tarragon (estragon), or other tender spring greens. The only one that is absolutely essential is the chervil. (Chervil is a delicate herb used frequently in French cuisine. A member of the parsley family, chervil has a mild flavor with hints of liquorice or anise. If you absolutely cannot find chervil, use a blend of parsley and tarragon – the parsley will give you the look and texture of Chervil, while the tarragon will impart that hint of liquorice).
Wash the greens and spin dry. Press garlic over the greens and mix with your hands, gently “rubbing” the garlic onto the tender leaves.
Mix the other ingredients together in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Set the greens on top and refrigerate.
Mix at the table when ready to serve. Pass the Feta table-side for those who want a little something extra. Serves 4 generously.