This recipe is the result of a mistake followed by a brainstorm. I mistakenly read a recipe for “fish en papillote,” or parchment-baked fish; in my mind, I was convinced it was wrapped in phyllo dough rather than paper, and once I discovered my mistake, I had to think quickly to rewrite the preparation to go with ingredients I had on hand. It ended up being a very fancy-looking dish that took no time or preparation at all to pull together. My family loved it! The variations could be endless… (This recipe serves two hungry people).
You will need:
- 2 skinless halibut fillets (around 6 oz. each)
- 1 roll phyllo dough (available in the frozen dessert section)
- 2 handfuls fresh basil, stems removed, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, separated: 4 peeled, smashed, and minced; 2 thinly sliced
- 1 bunch fresh spinach, washed
- ½ medium onion, diced
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- feta cheese
- 2 T butter, melted
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
1. Set the phyllo out on the counter, unopened, to thaw for a couple of hours before use.
2. Preheat oven to 425. Heat a splash of olive oil in a heavy skillet. Sauté the onions and minced garlic until the onions are just translucent, then add the spinach and toss until it wilts. Remove from heat and press the spinach into a colander to drain the juice. Fluff the spinach into a bowl, and crumble a handful of feta cheese onto it, then mix until well combined, without breaking the cheese into teeny bits; chunks are nice.
3. Season the halibut fillets with salt and pepper. Lay a sheet of phyllo onto a clean, dry work surface, and then brush with melted butter. Lay another sheet on top of that, brush, and repeat until you have three layers of dough. Lay one halibut fillet at one end. Season with pepper, nutmeg, and a shake of cayenne. Cover the fillet with half the sliced garlic, lemon zest and chopped basil, then pile half the spinach-feta mixture on top.
4. Carefully fold the leaves of dough over the fish from the sides, as if you were wrapping a present. Then, fold it over and over lengthwise until the fish is completely wrapped, and looks like a small paper parcel. Repeat the process from steps 3 and 4 with the second fillet.
5. Bake on a baking sheet for 15 – 20 minutes or until the fish is opaque – you would have to slice into a fillet to check, or trust your timing and oven temperature.
I served ours with a light sauce, using the remaining lemon juice and some thick Greek yogurt whisked together with oregano and a pinch of salt and sugar. We had red pepper quinoa with almonds (cooked in broth) and grilled mushrooms on the side.