Lemon Herb Fish in parchment paper is an incredibly healthy recipe that is also stunningly beautiful. Prep it ahead of time and you’ll have an easy weeknight meal, or a company-worthy dish.
My friend Roberta has been doing Weight Watchers for years. She’s had a lot of success with the program and so she plans to stick with it for life. Because she minimizes calories, she’s learned lots of tricks to maximize flavor. This is how she does fish. It’s practically calorie free.
She let me in on her secret the other day while we were having lunch. (She probably took pity on me after she ordered a large salad, and I ordered my usual: anything as long as it comes with a big pile of fries on the side, please.)
She bakes her fish on a bed of thinly sliced lemons. Roberta slices them with a sharp knife. I did mine with my mandolin. It makes incredibly thin and even slices. That mandolin was so inexpensive, and I’ve gotten a ton of use out of it. If you don’t have one yet, go out and get one—you won’t believe the cool things you can do with it.
I used Tilapia, but I can’t think of a fish that wouldn’t be great cooked like this.
Roberta uses seasoning salt. I sprinkled on sea salt and pepper, then topped the fish with fresh herbs.
Use whatever fresh herbs you like. I used sage and thyme.
Roberta sprays the fish with an olive oil spray and bakes it on a baking sheet. I drizzled mine instead and wrapped it up in parchment packets. To wrap the fish, layer out the lemons, fish and herbs on a sheet of parchment paper about the size of your baking sheet. Bring up the long sides together, and fold over twice, like you were closing a paper bag, creasing well after each fold. Then fold each end twice, the same way, only folding it under, so the packet stays neatly wrapped while it bakes.
You could serve these at a dinner party with each packet containing a different fresh herb. How cute would that be.
Ok, I admit it, I dotted on a little bit of butter just before I closed up my packages. Just don’t tell Roberta.
I baked the tilapia at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can eat your moist, steaming hot lemony fish right from the packet.
I have to say I was blown away by how much bright citrus flavor gets into the fish by cooking it on top of the lemons like this. I especially like the micro-thin slices that I got with my mandolin…they cooked down enough that I could actually eat them along with the fish. I’m going to use this technique a lot from now on. And remember, you don’t have to use parchment paper; you’ll get the same great flavor just using a baking sheet like Roberta does.
- 2 fish fillets (I used tilapia)
- 2 lemons, washed and very thinly sliced
- fresh herbs (I used sage and thyme)
- salt and fresh cracked pepper
- a drizzle of good olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter for dotting (optional)
- Set oven to 400F
- Fan out the sliced lemons on two sheets of parchment paper to form a bed for the fish.
- Lay the fish on the lemons, and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the fresh herbs on top of the fish, and then give it a light drizzle of olive oil. Dot with butter, if using.
- Wrap the fish in the paper. Bring the two long sides up and fold like a lunch bag. Fold the two end as well, tucking them under the fish so the packet stays secure. Make a small slit in the paper to allow steam to escape.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Serve the fish hot, still in the packets.