Mediterranean-Inspired Fish En Papillote (In Parchment)

Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

Fish en papillote (in parchment paper) sounds fancy but is actually one of the simplest and tastiest ways to cook fish. This method of preparing fish packets is a healthy, easy, foolproof way to create a deliciously tender, delicate, and flavor-packed meal with minimal cleanup — in just 30 minutes! Inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, this recipe combines tender fish with earthy fennel, crisp broccolini, sweet tomatoes, and a light lemony caper sauce to create a satisfying array of flavors and textures.

Once the technique is down, you can create endless flavor combinations using different fish, veggies, and sauces. Combining them all en papillote enhances the flavor and aromatics. This meal delivers great taste and texture and is packed full of omega-3s, prebiotics, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to reduce inflammation, feed our gut, and boost our immune system.

Mediterranean-Inspired Fish En Papillote (In Parchment)

Serves: 4


  • 1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced

  • 4 6-ounce filets of fish, make sure to buy wild fish (black bass, salmon, halibut, or Alaskan cod)

  • 2 bunches broccolini, cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved

  • 2 lemons (juice of 1 lemon, thinly slice the other lemon)

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon capers

  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill (any fresh herb works)

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place on rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Assemble the packets: (See instructional video below)

a. Tear off 4 squares of parchment paper that are at least 12 inches on each side. (NOTE: Do not use wax paper: it is coated with paraffin wax, a petroleum by-product. In addition, paraffin wax can melt in the oven, and present a fire hazard.)

b. Lay the parchment paper sheets flat on a work surface.

c. Divide the thinly sliced fennel between the 4 sheets. Place the fennel in the middle of the       bottom half of the parchment paper, leaving more space at the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

d. Place the fish filets horizontally on top of the fennel. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the fish.

e. Divide tomatoes and broccolini into four even amounts and place around each slice of fish. Season with salt and pepper.

f. Sprinkle the capers, red pepper flakes, garlic, and dill over the fish and vegetables.

g. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil together and pour over the fish and vegetables.

h. Lay 2-3 lemon slices over fish.

3. Seal the packets:

a. Fold the top half of the parchment paper over the fish and veggies to meet the bottom parchment paper edge that is laying flat.

b. Starting from one side, fold the parchment paper’s edges together tightly and inward toward the fish. Continue folding around the fish until you reach the other side. This will create a sealed packet. It should resemble a large empanada.

c. Repeat steps with the other 3.

4. Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and cook in the oven for 13-16 minutes (if fish is a thinner piece cook for 13 minutes, if it is a thicker piece cook for 16 minutes).

5. Remove from the oven and serve in packets. Spoon the sauce that formed at the bottom of the pan over the fish and veggies. Top with more fresh herbs and a little butter, if you like.

Nutrient highlights

Fish (Salmon): Salmon is a highly nutritious fish, revered for its rich omega-3 fatty acid content, which is crucial for maintaining heart health and reducing inflammation throughout the body. Omega-3s also play a vital role in brain function and may reduce the risk of depression. Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, necessary for healing and muscle maintenance, and it’s loaded with vitamins D and B12, selenium, and potassium. These nutrients support bone health, protect against cancer, and boost immune function. The presence of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant in salmon, helps fight oxidative stress, aging, and may even improve skin health.

Broccoli: Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable known for its dense nutritional profile. It’s packed with vitamins C and K, offering more than a day’s requirement in a single serving, crucial for immune health and blood clotting, respectively. Broccoli is rich in fiber, which aids in digestion and maintains a healthy gut microbiome. It contains potent antioxidants, such as sulforaphane, which may protect against cancer. Furthermore, broccoli provides folate, essential for DNA production and repair, and potassium, important for heart health and electrolyte balance. The presence of iron and calcium also supports the formation of red blood cells and bone health.

Fennel: Fennel is a flavorful herb that boasts a range of health benefits due to its rich array of nutrients. It’s a good source of fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and can reduce the risk of heart disease. Fennel contains potent antioxidants like anethole, limonene, and quercetin, which combat inflammation and may have anti-cancer properties. It is also rich in vitamin C, essential for immune function, skin health, and collagen synthesis. Fennel provides minerals such as potassium, manganese, and calcium, which are vital for heart health, metabolism, and bone strength.

Tomato: Tomatoes are a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are beneficial for skin health, as lycopene can protect against sunburn. The high potassium content supports cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Tomatoes also provide fiber, which aids in digestive health, and vitamin C, crucial for immune function and skin health.

Olive Oil: Olive oil is a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, renowned for its heart-healthy benefits. It is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, which reduce inflammation and may have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. High in antioxidants, especially vitamin E and polyphenols, olive oil protects against oxidative damage and may lower the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease. It also supports healthy digestion and may help in controlling blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for diabetes management.

Lemon: Lemons are a citrus fruit known for their high vitamin C content, vital for immune system function and skin health. They contain flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lemons also provide a modest amount of potassium, enhancing heart health, and fiber, particularly pectin, which can improve digestive health and help control blood sugar levels. The citric acid in lemons aids in iron absorption from plant foods, combating anemia.

Herbs: Culinary herbs, such as basil, parsley, rosemary, and thyme, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, offering various health benefits. They contain volatile oils and polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antiviral properties. Herbs can support heart health, improve digestion, and may protect against chronic diseases, including cancer. They are also a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, essential for vision, immune function, and blood clotting, respectively.

Garlic: Garlic is celebrated for its culinary and medicinal properties, primarily due to its active compound allicin, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. It has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping to fight infections. Garlic also contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging. It may improve bone health by increasing estrogen levels in females and supports detoxification processes in the liver. Garlic is a good source of vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium, and fiber, contributing to overall wellness.

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