Surprisingly easy and shockingly impressive, I don’t think many people appreciate just how simple cooking a whole fish is. Your Family will think that you went to culinary school. You can just giggle and know that dinner took no time and there was no panic. Heinen’s “4PM Panic“ series is all about dishes that take the stress out of weekday meal preparation. This week’s recipe is simple yet impressive.
Heinen’s fishmongers supply only the best quality fish so I know when I ask for a whole red snapper the eyes will be bright red and the flesh will be firm and fresh, just how it should be. Fish should never smell like… well, fish. They should smell like the sea, briny and fresh. When I was shopping for this meal I circled the aisles several times after I had acquired what I needed for the dish. I stopped and thought I must need something more, there must be something else I’m missing in my cart, this seems too easy. But the truth of the matter is it is just that simple just a few ingredients are all you need for a spectacular outcome.
Since it’s fall and I’m in the mood for something roasted yet fresh. I’m roasting vegetables and mixing them with is Israeli couscous to make a side salad to go with my red snapper. Oh my goodness that sounds so impressive. The truth is, it’s as easy as chopping up vegetables throwing them on a cookie sheet with a little olive oil salt-and-pepper boiling some water stirring in the couscous giving it a little fluff and throwing it all together in a bowl. Don’t tell your family that you enjoyed your whole day then 30 minutes before it’s time to sit down to eat you threw this all together. Let them think you slaved over this complex dish this all afternoon. Maybe they will insist you relax with your feet up while they clean up!??
The upside to cooking a whole fish is the flavor. It has a rich intensity you just don’t get with precut filets or especially the frozen pieces. The down side is that there are bones to deal with. At least I thought it was a down side until my husband said he disagreed. He said; “Yes, we had to pull out the back bone and ribs but then we ate slowly, carefully watching for any other bones we found as we ate. Usually we rush through our meals finishing as quickly as we started but today we sat together for an hour enjoying the great flavor and talking about our days as we ate slowly. This was a treat.” He didn’t mind the extra effort for the great payoff. I agree!
Whole Red Snapper
note* One snapper feeds about two people so you do the math to suit your family. For 5 of us I made two, 1.25 pound red snappers and there was plenty. This same recipe can be applied to almost any whole fresh fish. I’m using Red Snapper because it’s in season, freshest and available today.
Ask the fishmonger to clean the whole fish but leave the head and tail on.
*Whole red snapper
- Flat leaf Parsley 1 bunch
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs of fresh dill
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- 1 lemon sliced thin
- 1 lime sliced thin
- crushed red pepper (optional)to season the olive oil
- red onion or shallots (optional) to season the olive oil
- Parchment Paper
- Pre heat oven to 425°
- Cut a piece of parchment paper twice the length as your baking sheet. Place it on the baking sheet and set aside.
- Rinse your whole fish and pat dry. Place the fish on one half of the parchment that is covering the baking sheet. You will eventually fold the other half over to create a cooking pouch. It’s a french cooking method called En papillote.
- Salt and Pepper the inside cavity of the fish. Tuck the fresh herbs into the cavity and a few lemon and lime slices. Any remaining herbs, lemons and limes can just be laid on top.
- Drizzle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil over the fish and herbs.
- Fold the long side of the parchment over the fish and fold up the three open sides making a pouch. If folds will not stay you can staple it shut with a few staples on each side. Alton Brown suggests this when cooking in parchment. I’m sure a true french chef would roll his eyes at our American ingenuity. Who cares!
- Place in the oven at 425° for 30 minutes.
- When you remove it from the oven, (first take a minute to enjoy the aroma) then very carefully cut the top of the paper open REMEMBER there is steam built up inside. Be very careful not to burn yourself.
- Remove the herbs and citrus from the cavity and plate and serve. The tender juicy meat will flake away from the bone easily. Pull the spine out in one piece then only a few bones will be left.
Israeli Couscous & Roasted Vegetable Salad
note* I like to use Israeli because it is bigger than normal couscous and has a better texture with the roasted vegetables.
- 1 baby egg plant
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms
- 5 or 6 carrots (I like the multi colored ones Heinen’s carries)
- 4 cloves garlic skinned and cut in half
- 1 red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil for roasting vegetables
- 1/4 cup olive oil for dressing Juice of one lemon
- 1Tablespoon of honey
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- Fresh Parsley and crumbled goat cheese for serving (optional)
- 2 cups of Israeli Couscous prepared according to directions on the package (it’s as easy as boiling water).
- Cut all vegetables into large chunks. 1-2” pieces.
- Cut the red onion into wedges not slices.
- Place all vegetables and garlic onto a large sheet pan.
- Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes. Until tender with darkened edges.
- Toss couscous and vegetables together in a bowl.
- Mix olive oil, lemon juice and honey to make dressing.
- Drizzle over salad. Top with chopped parsley and crumbled goat cheese.
By the way, have you heard about Heinen’s Tasteful Rewards™ program? Sign up for free to receive exclusive weekly specials via email and earn Heinen’s rewards. As a Tasteful Rewards™ membership benefit, Heinen’s will donate up to 1% of your qualified purchases made between September and April to a local school of your choice through their Teaming Up for Education Program. CLICK HERE to sign up for Heinen’s Tasteful Rewards™ and, trust me, this is one email that will always please your palate!
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. She regularly shops at Heinen’s for the family dishes she features via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
Heinen’s Grocery is located at 500 N. Hough Street, between E. Main Street and Route 14 (next to Meathead’s) in Barrington, Illinois. They’re open 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit Heinens.com.