Test Kitchen video tip: Cooking en papillote

February 14, 2013|By Noelle Carter
  • It's easy to cook in paper -- simply seal the foods in parchment and place in the oven, and the food cooks in minutes.
It's easy to cook in paper -- simply seal the foods in parchment and… (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles…)

Looking for a wonderfully romantic dinner idea without any dramatic fuss? You might just try cooking en papillote.

A traditional French technique, cooking en papillote refers to food that is cooked or baked while tightly sealed in greased parchment paper. The food typically cooks up in minutes, the sealed parchment literally puffing up as the food gently steams inside.

Serve the parchment packet tableside, breaking it open in front of the eager diner. It's wonderfully entertaining. And with no pots or pans to mess up in the kitchen, it's virtually stress-free. A perfect meal, whether you're cooking on a hectic weeknight, or are planning a special dinner for a certain someone.

Check out the video above for a demonstration on cooking scallops en papillote, and click here for other recipe ideas.

If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or shoot me an email at


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Scallops niçoise en papillote

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Leave some space between the scallops and the crimped edge to allow the packet to puff up.

4 teaspoons olive oil plus extra for parchment

4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup niçoise olives, pitted and chopped

Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

16 fresh basil leaves, washed and dried

16 sea scallops (about 1 1/3 pounds)

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut out 4 sheets of parchment paper measuring 15 by 12 inches. Fold in half and cut into the shape of half a heart. Brush each sheet lightly with oil along the fold on one side of the heart. Set aside.

2. Drain the tomatoes well to remove as much liquid as possible. Combine with the garlic and olives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Divide the mixture among the sheets of parchment, placing the mixture along the fold on one side of the heart. Place 2 basil leaves on top of each mound of tomatoes followed by 4 scallops. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each and season with salt and pepper. Divide the remaining basil leaves among the mounds.

4. Fold one side of the parchment packets over and crimp the edges tightly to seal completely. Place the packets on a baking sheet.

5. Bake until the packets puff up and the contents bubble, about 15 minutes. Transfer the packets to serving plates and slit each open with a sharp knife. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 158 calories; 14 grams protein; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 24 mg. cholesterol; 225 mg. sodium.

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