Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy
Many upscale Italian restaurants impress their guests with fish cooked al cartoccio, or steamed in parchment paper or aluminum foil. You can, too. This technique is both functional and tasteful, because wrapping the ingredients seals in the juices and putting this dish together is effortless, yet the result is elegant. Let the drama unfold the next time you have company and take the high road to make this exotic pesce al cartoccio. For added interest and presentation, place the fish on a bed of cooked vermicelli (thin pasta) before closing up the paper or foil. You can save time by cooking and refrigerating the vermicelli up to two days ahead.
4 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked plain vermicelli
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 salmon fillets, 6 ounces each
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup bottled clam juice or dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Cut four 10 X 12-inch sheets of parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside. Have a baking sheet ready.
Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to brush the four sheets of foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
Mix the vermicelli in a bowl with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Divide and spoon it into the center of each sheet.
Mix the lemon juice, salt, thyme, parsley, and mustard together in a small bowl. Brush each fish fillet with some of the mixture and place 1 fillet on top of each pile of vermicelli. Sprinkle the onion, zucchini, and tomatoes evenly over the top of each fillet. Pour 2 tablespoons of the clam juice or wine over each.
Bring the four corners of the parchment or aluminum foil up and twist the ends together to form a bundle. Place them on the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The salmon should remain moist and the color of coral in the center. Do not overcook.
Place a package on each of 4 dinner plates and serve at once, letting each guest open his or her own package. You can stand back and watch the steam and smiles escape.
Variation: Clams or mussels in their shells or a combination of both are good for this recipe, too.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO! by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.