Tilapia en Papillote


Parchment paper

Tilapia fillets (you can you any wish you wish)

small red potatoes

colored bell peppers

small onion


cherry or grape tomatoes

sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large lemons

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

fish seasoning of choice - (I used Wild River Trout Seasoning - available at Bass Pro Shop)  This is a mixture of a whole passel  of spices that enhance the flavor of the fish.

2 Tbsp cold butter


Preheat an oven to 500 degrees F.

Fold the parchment paper in half lengthwise. Cut the paper into heart shaped pieces, starting in the fold (like you did when you were making Valentines in grade school).  You want each half of the heart to be 3 - 4 inches wider than the fish fillet.

Prepare your vegetables.  You can use any combination you would like.  The key is "thin" and "uniform" so that they will all be done at the end.  Slice the potatoes extremely thin and uniform (a mandolin would work great for this).  Slice the zucchini into thin coins.  Slice the onion and peppers into thin strips.  Slice the lemon into about 6 slices.  Half the tomatoes.   Toss all of these vegetables and lemons together in a bowl with a little olive oil, the juice of the other lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Taste the juices to see if you have enough flavor.  This is your only opportunity to season the veggies. 

Rinse and pat dry your fish fillets.  Season heavily (you DO want it to be very flavorful) and set aside for a while.

Open up your parchment paper hearts and brush them lightly with olive oil.    Place the potatoes in a single layer on the bottom, then layer with zucchini, onions, peppers, and tomatoes.  Place a fillet on the bed of vegetable, then top with a couple of lemon slices each, a few sprigs of thyme, and about small cubes of cold butter.  You can drizzle some of the juices from the bowl that you mixed your vegetables in (olive oil and lemon juice) over the fish and vegetables.  If there is no juice in the bowl, you could add a tablespoon or so of white wine or chicken broth to each packet.

Fold the paper heart over the fish lengthwise to close it.  Roll and crimp the edges together starting at the top of the heart to seal the packets.  

With a long spatula, place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. The paper will be puffed and browned.  Tilapia fillets are not real thick, so if you use a very thick fillet of fish, you may need to leave it in longer.... but 12 minutes was perfect for flaky tilapia. 

Serve at once on individual plates, still wrapped in the parchment.  Take care when opening the packages as the steam will escape .... hopefully not in your face.