From The Nutritionist

Chef David Landers
Guest Author
David Landers, CCC

En Papillote: Healthier Meals, Full Steam Ahead

This month, we had the privilege of interviewing one of our very own Campbell Chefs about healthy cooking techniques. Here's what Chef David Landers had to say:

One of the foundational healthy cooking techniques is a type of steaming called en papillote; literally translated from French it means "in paper." It is a fitting name as the food is wrapped in parchment paper and then baked in the oven. This approach creates a single-portion steamer that gently cooks the food without added fat while trapping in the flavor and nutrients. When done properly the steam builds up inside the paper causing it to swell and this puffed up balloon can be served simply by cutting a slit in the top table-side releasing all of the wonderful aromas. It is very dramatic and quite impressive, which adds to the appeal of this cooking technique. Let's walk step by step through the en papillote cooking method.

Print handy step-by-step cooking guide

1. Prepare the parchment paper
First of all, you need a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the piece of parchment paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This step creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper. It will do the same job of trapping the steam and will never become water-logged.

2. Select the ingredients
Choosing the right ingredients is key. This is a very quick-cooking approach and so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. Steaming is a gentle cooking method that brings out the natural flavors of foods. Fish is a good choice because its delicate flavor will really shine here.

The accompanying ingredients, such as julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness.

The moisture in the fish and vegetables alone is not enough to make the steam we need and so another key ingredient is a flavorful liquid. For this recipe a good choice is Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice as it will provide a big hit of flavor without adding too much salt or fat. Other great options include Swanson® Unsalted stock, V8 V-Fusion® or white wine.

Fresh herbs, such as parsley, chervil, or cilantro, will go a long way in providing flavor and are a go-to ingredient for delicious cooking. In this dish they have an added bonus of providing color and visual appeal.

3. Assemble the packet
Assembly is the next important part to cooking en papillote because the dish will be served directly from the oven in the parchment packet. First lay the oiled, heart-shaped parchment paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Then season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and half of the herbs. Toss them around to make sure they are evenly coated and place enough for one portion on one half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish and leave about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle on the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the flavorful liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture, and prepare to seal the paper.

The goal in sealing the packet is to fold the edges of the paper in an attractive way that will be strong enough to hold in the steam. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop. Next, starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Then continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

4. Bake your dinner
Your packet is now ready for the oven or it can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to cook the meal. Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a sharp knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes using en papillote and it is extremely flavorful and easy to prepare.

Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Chef David Landers, CCC earned his A.O.S degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and his B.S. degree in food science from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. He is a Certified Chef de Cuisine through the American Culinary Federation and a member of the Research Chefs Association. As a Sr. Chef for the Campbell's Culinary and Baking Institute (CCBI) Chef David works closely with many brands to develop new culinary inspired foods.

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En Papillote Technique

1. Prepare the parchment paper
Get a large piece of parchment paper, approximately 2.5 times as large as a single portion of food. Cut the paper into a heart shape, lightly brushing one side with oil. This creates a slight barrier to water, preventing the paper from becoming soaked too quickly. Another option, though not as attractive, is to use tin foil instead of parchment paper.

2. Select the ingredients
This is a very quick-cooking approach, so it works best with tender proteins such as fish and shellfish. The accompanying ingredients, like julienned vegetables (matchstick size), must be small enough to cook at the same rate as the fish. In some cases the vegetables can be blanched, or quickly cooked in boiling water, to ensure proper doneness. Fresh herbs will go a long way in providing flavor.

3. Assemble the packet
Lay the oiled, heart-shaped paper on a baking tray, oiled side up. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and half of the herbs. Toss them around for an even coat. Place enough for one portion on half of the paper. Bunch them up to create a bed for your fish, leaving about two inches between the food and the edge of the paper. Place the seasoned fish on the vegetables and sprinkle the remaining herbs. Add a splash of the liquid on top of the fish, just enough to add moisture.

4. Seal the packet
To seal, fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables (so it resembles a teardrop). Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge toward the center. Fold over again to create a seal. Continue along the length of the parchment, folding each section twice. When you get to the point of the heart, twist and fold to finish the seal.

5. Bake your dinner
Bake the packet in a 425°F oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. The packet will puff and brown while in the oven and as the steam builds. When cooked, remove from the oven and carefully place the packet on a plate. With a knife or scissors cut an "X" on the top and fold back the edges for a dramatic presentation and a delicious, healthy meal.

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Spicy Flounder and Clams with Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: Less than 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-14 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup carrots, finely cut julienne
  • 1/3 cup sugar snap peas, cross cut thinly
  • 1/3 cup zucchini, yellow, finely cut julienne
  • 6 each cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp. shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. parsley, fresh, minced
  • Dash salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 oz. fillet, flounder (2 fillets, 3oz. each)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice
  • 3/4 lb. clams, in the shell

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, shallot, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, half of the parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss well to combine.
  3. Lightly oil two large heart shaped pieces of parchment paper.
  4. With the parchment paper on a sheet tray, place half of the vegetable mixture in the center of one half of each heart leaving about a 2" border.
  5. Lightly season each fillet with salt and pepper. Fold or roll the fillet to create a uniform thickness and place on top of the vegetables.
  6. Top the fish with the remaining herbs and the Low Sodium Spicy Hot V8® 100% Vegetable juice.
  7. Place half of the clams around each portion of vegetables and fish.
  8. Fold the heart over to enclose the fish and vegetables so that it resembles a teardrop.
  9. Starting at the top of the heart, fold about 1/4" of the edge towards the center. Fold over again to create a seal.
  10. Continue with this method along the length of the parchment packet folding each section twice to make an attractive edge.
  11. When you get to the point of the heart twist and fold to finish the seal.
  12. Bake the packets for 10-14 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).
  13. Remove from the oven and serve by cutting an "X" in the top and folding back the edges.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories 180, Total Fat 9g, Saturated Fat 1g, Monounsaturated Fat 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 50mg, Sodium 450mg, Carbohydrate 10g, Fiber 2g, Sugar 4g, Protein 16g.