I saw a gorgeous fillet of salmon on the fishmonger's slab and knew right away that I wanted to eat it with the Yukon Gold potatoes and the almost needle fine beans I'd bought the day before. Cooking food sealed in parchment paper is a classical French method known as "en papillote". I love, love, love this way of preparing fish as it's almost laser quick, mess free, healthy and relies very little on fat for flavour.

What you get is a cut of fish cooked to absolute perfection, which for me, is flaky, moist and fall-apart-at-the-touch-of-a-fork tender. A couple of squashed cherry tomatoes, a generous squirt of your favourite prepared mustard (I recommend a mild Dijon, or fine grain mustard) and a slug of the greenest, fruitiest extra virgin olive oil you can find, on the salmon, will all heat up, break down and amalgamate into the most delicious, and ridiculously easy sauce you may ever make. What I really love about this recipe is that you need just 8 ingredients, including salt and pepper and even if I didn't write it out for you, you'd have no problem cooking it, just referring to the picture!

Make a point of slicing the potatoes almost paper thin so they will cook at the same time as the salmon. And don't even think of using regular green beans which are really too thick and will take too long to cook. By the time they're done, your beautiful salmon fillet would be sinfully and heartbreakingly overcooked. I like my salmon with the barest cooked crust all around and an almost quiveringly rare and pink inside. So, 8 minutes or so, in a skin blisteringly hot oven for a thick cut of salmon is plenty for me.

If you can't find baby green beans, asparagus or rounds of zucchini would be just as good. If you don't like cherry tomatoes, use sliced normal sized ones. It's perfectly fine to make substitutions, but bear in mind that whatever goes into your parcel should need no more than 10 minutes cooking in the oven.

We had this gorgeous dinner with a slightly sparkling rose which was quite the perfect partner, complementing the tomatoes, fish and sauce to a "T".  I think it would have been even better if we'd had it as lunch on a wrought iron balcony overlooking the French Riviera. Does that sound to you like low blood sugar talking?  If you don't like blush or rose wine, an inexpensive Pinot Noir, a sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc, albarino,verdelho or any zippy, light to medium bodied white wine will do beautifully.

It's been almost 2 weeks of mostly healthful, low to moderate fat and sugar eating and I feel it's time for a culinary roll in the mud! I'm going to need something a little sinful very, very soon. Stay tuned...

Prep 10 mins          Cook 10 mins      Serves 4 generously


4 smallish Yukon Gold potatoes (or any creamy yellow fleshed variety), peeled and thinly sliced
250 g (about 1/2 lb) fine baby green beans, washed and drained
4 cuts (each about 200 g or slightly under 1/2 lb) salmon fillet, skinned
About 4 Tbsp mild prepared mustard out of a mustard squirt bottle
12 ripe cherry tomatoes
About 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven at 230 C (450 F) and cut out 4 sheets of parchment or baking paper about 30 cm (12 in) by 30 cm.

On the lower half of each sheet, arrange a quarter of the potato slices, in a layer. Top each mound of potatoes with a quarter of the green beans. On the green beans, place a cut of salmon each. Give each salmon cut a generous squeeze of mustard and top each with 3 cherry tomatoes.

Drizzle each parcel with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold the empty half of each sheet over the salmon and vegetables then crease and fold over the 3 edges several times until you have a securely sealed parcel that won't leak any juices once the fish is cooked.

Bake parcels for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool briefly before cutting parcels open. I like to put each parcel on a plate and cut a large cross in the top of each before opening out like a four petaled flower. You could altenatively plate everything out attractively and serve.