After the holidays, I’m feeling a bit of kitchen fatigue. I love to spend long hours in the kitchen, but some days, I want an easy, healthy and delicious dinner in just a few minutes. On days like that—when I need big results with little effort—I turn to my favorite French technique, cooking En Papillote. Today, I’ll show you how to use the technique to make elegant, effortless Tuna En Papillote with Italian Salsa Verde, in under 20 minutes.
The French term means “in parchment” and is a method of baking or grilling vegetables and proteins in a folded parchment or foil pouch. As the food gently steams, aromatic herbs and spices infuse it with deep, intense flavors. Cooking en papillote sounds fancy, but it’s incredibly easy and infinitely customizable. The technique is perfect for any night of the week—a multi-course dinner party, a date-night dinner for two or a simple family supper. You can even assemble your packets ahead of time and bake just before serving.
To demonstrate how to cook Tuna En Papillote with Salsa Verde, I turned to Omaha Steaks’ World Port Seafood Yellowfin Tuna Steaks. These succulent steaks are wild caught straight from the Pacific Ocean. They have a firm, flaky texture and a rich, meaty flavor.
To cook en papillote for four, you’ll need four 14-inch by 12-inch sheets of parchment paper or foil. To cut your first packet, fold one sheet in half and cut out a heart shape.
Unfold the heart, with the point at the top. Next, pile on your aromatics, vegetables and protein in the middle of the heart, on one side of the fold. I added a layer of thinly sliced lemon, followed by red bell pepper, thinly sliced red onion and halved cherry tomatoes. Next came the gorgeous Omaha Steaks’ tuna. I love the bright red color of the fish next to the fresh veggies.
I topped the fish with a few leaves of fresh basil, a drizzle each of white wine and olive oil, and a healthy pinch of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. If you’re cooking for little ones, swap in lemon juice, broth or water for the white wine.
To seal your packet, start at one end and begin folding the open edge of the paper ½ inch down. Press tightly to crease. Continue folding the edge of the packet until you have a nice, tight seal. When you reach the end, gently twist to seal completely. You can also brush the edge of your parchment paper with egg white for an even tighter seal.
If you’re using foil, repeat the process. You’ll find that foil will be easier to fold to fold than parchment and is ideal for grilling or high-heat (above 450 degrees) roasting.
Place your packets on a sheet pan (there’s no need to oil) and bake or grill, or set aside in the oven until ready to cook. When you’re ready to cook your tuna packets, place your sheet pan in a pre-heated 400-degree oven and bake until done to your liking, 14-15 minutes for medium-rate, 16-18 minutes for medium or 18-20 minutes for well.
While the tuna is steaming gently in the oven, prepare the accompanying Italian-style salsa verde. Italian salsa verde is like a briny, Mediterranean version of chimichurri. It’s packed with parsley, basil, briny capers, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. It adds a bold Mediterranean flavor to the finished dish, along with a pleasing pop of bright green color.
When the fish is done, carefully remove the packets and place one on each plate. Then cut or open the packets just before serving. Your guests will enjoy the extra drama of a little tableside performance. Drizzle your fish with salsa verde, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and enjoy!
- 4 14-inch by 12-inch sheets of parchment paper or foil, cut into heart shapes
- 4 Omaha Steaks World Port Yellowfin Tuna Steaks (or 5-ounce tuna steaks)
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves (about 16 leaves)
- 4 tablespoons white wine or broth, divided
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Italian Salsa Verde
- 1 cup parsley
- ½ cup fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. To prepare tuna packets: Cut parchment packets, as described above. In each packet, place 2-4 lemon slices, 4-5 slices bell pepper, 4-5 slices red onion, about ¼ cup cherry tomatoes and tuna steak. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon broth or wine, 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with basil leaves and then fold to seal. Repeat with remaining packets.
- Place packets on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the desired doneness: 14-15 minutes for medium-rate, 16-18 minutes for medium or 18-20 minutes for well.
- While fish bakes, prepare salsa verde. Place all ingredients, except for oil in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. With processor running, drizzle in olive oil to desired thickness. Season to taste and add additional vinegar or oil to flavor to your liking, if desired.
- When fish is done, remove each packet to a plate. Cut or tear open packets tableside and serve immediately with a drizzle of salsa verde and lemon wedges.
- To make up to four hours ahead: Prepare packets as described and refrigerate. When ready to serve, remove from fridge, place on a baking tray and bake according to above directions.