Even when you're cooking for two, even when it's the middle of the week, even when you don't want a whole fuss for dinner, you can make something that looks really fancy and French that at the same time is about the easiest way to foolproof cooking.
En papillote, also known as, a paper bag.
When you cook en papillote, you put all your ingredients (fish or chicken, side veggies, and your sauce ingredients) into a parchment packet, and bake it. The veggies soften. The fish or chicken steams and is tender and juicy. And any garlic or wine or butter you put in the packets stews together into its own little sauce. Then you just serve this elegant packet for dinner, cut into it, eat, and throw it out and you haven't even dirtied a pot.
This version is light and fresh and punchy. Cut up some zucchini and put them at the bottom of the packet. Then, a nice piece of thick, white cod. Over that: garlic, chilies, mint, basil, and cherry tomatoes, followed by some olive oil, butter, and white wine to make the sauce (make sure to make the most of that white and have a glass while you cook!). Then fold it all together and bake for 12 minutes.
You have light, flaky fish, tender-crisp zucchini, roasted tomatoes, and this really bright, slightly spicy sauce. It's great. But you could take this recipe and do whatever you want with it. No cod? Use any boneless, skinless fish you like. If you don't want to bother with fresh herbs or chilies, you could leave them out. Add asparagus or sugar snaps instead of zucchini. The point is, it looks great, it tastes fantastic, there's no way to mess it up, and you don't have to wash a single pot.
About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way.