Here’s a little meal we whipped up in honor of Valentine’s Day. I must admit, I used to be quite the Valentine’s Day cynic. I won’t go into it here, but some of my arguments were consumerism, cheesy cards, and the way it makes some single people feel bad. Since my youth, I’ve warmed up to the concept of celebrating love on February 14 because, well, why not take another day to cherish those you hold dear? And it doesn’t have to be just romantic love. Family, friends, community – everyone can be celebrated on V day!
I do follow that up with a meal that’s perfect as a cooking date for a couple – though of course it can be doubled or tripled for more. It’s salmon en papillote, or a fancy French way of saying “salmon in paper”. The fish is cooked in a parchment paper packet for just under 10 minutes until it’s moist and delicious. We’ve added lemon, thyme and rosemary for flavor, and cooked it with thinly sliced carrots. Some added roasted potatoes make it a meal. It’s fairly easy to put together, but so elegant it will seem like it took hours in the kitchen.
For the salmon, try looking for a sustainably raised fish. We bought ours at the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market from Sitka Salmon Shares, which provides responsibly-sourced fish from Alaska. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, we have a white bean option (below). You may want to add a salad or bread since the white bean option is not quite as filling.
If you do try this as a cooking date, make sure to do the following:
- Buy the ingredients in advance; make sure not to shop when you are hungry!
- Turn on some music (Alex’s favorite is Google Music – they have great thematic mixes).
- Pour some wine or your beverage of choice.
- Put together some items to nibble on while cooking: we like a nice cheese, crackers, olives, baguette, nuts, etc – simple items that need no preparation.
- Allow for about 1 hour or a little over to prepare the meal, depending on how fast of a cook you are.
- Make the potatoes first and get them in the oven; then start the salmon packets.
- Folding the heart-shaped packets is the only somewhat tough part; we’ve added a link below to help out.
- We have a dessert recipe coming soon to end your meal on a sweet note; it requires no advanced prep so you can make it after you eat your meal.
We hope you enjoy this meal! Let us know if you give it a try.
*Note: If you’re attending our cooking class on February 15 at The Garden Table, this is what we’ll be making!
- 2 pounds mixed red and yellow-skinned potatoes
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Dice 2 pounds potatoes. Chop 2 teaspoons thyme leaves.
- In a large bowl, mix the potatoes and thyme with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon honey, and fresh ground pepper.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
- 2 pieces parchment paper
- ½ pound salmon (or for a vegetarian version, 1 ½ cups cooked or a 15-ounce can white beans)
- 3 medium carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
- 1 green onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut the salmon in half. Peel 3 carrots and cut them into very thin strips (julienne). Peel 2 garlic cloves. Slice half a lemon into rings. Chop 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary. Thinly slice the green portion of 1 green onion.
- Fold the parchment paper in half and then cut it into a heart shape. Lightly brush the right half of the parchment heart with olive oil. On the right half of the heart, place the carrots on the paper, then place the salmon on top. Add the whole garlic cloves and lemon rings next to the carrots. Top each packet with half of the chopped herbs, ½ tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ⅛ teaspoon paprika and fresh ground pepper. (Note: For the vegetarian version, substitute 1 ½ cups drained and rinsed white beans. Decrease the herbs to 2 teaspoons each.)
- Seal each packet by folding over the left half of the heart, then folding ½-inch straight folds along the edge of the heart. (See Bon Appetit for more detailed instructions for how to fold the parchment paper.)
- Bake the salmon 9 minutes for a 1-inch thick piece, or 10 to 11 minutes for a piece thicker than 1 inch (insert a knife into the middle of one piece to ensure the desired doneness). Rest for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions and serve.