There are two really good reasons to cook fish in packets. The first is that your fish steams, so it stays moist and tender. The second is that there is no cleanup. None. The sheet pan on which you put the packets often doesn’t even get dirty. How great is that?

You can’t cook anything and everything in packets, but fish—especially mild white fish like flounder—is very well suited to it. As the flounder steams, it is infused with flavors from the other ingredients in the packet—in this case, olives, orange, capers, and tomatoes. The slices of polenta against which the fish is nestled also absorb other flavors in the packet, but without losing their own sweet nuttiness.

From Hero Dinners by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Copyright © 2019 by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Flounder en Papillote




00 min


00 min


18 grape tomatoes, halved

20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise

8 large pimiento-stuffed green olives, halfed lengthwise

Scant ¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon drained nonpareil capers

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 large zucchini (about 12 ounces), halved lengthwise and cut across into ½-inch-thick slices (about 1 ¾ cups)

½ teaspoon salt, divided

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

4 (6-ounce) flounder fillets

1 (18-ounce) log precooked polenta, cut across into 12 slices


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 °F.

  2. Combine the tomatoes, olives, basil, capers, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl.

  3. Combine the zucchini with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a bowl. Toss with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.

  4. Rub the flounder fillets with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

  5. Cut off 4 (18-inch) lengths of foil. Working with one sheet at a time, coat one side with cooking spray. Fold each in half (short end to short end) and unfold. All the food will go on one half of the foil. First, line 3 slices of polenta up in a row about 1 inch from the crease. Arrange the zucchini next to it and rest the fish over the polenta and zucchini. Top with the olive mixture. Fold the foil closed and crimp the edges all the way around to seal the packet. Repeat with the remaining foil and ingredients. Place the packets on a sheet pan.

  6. Roast until the packets are puffed and the flounder is cooked through, 16 to 18 minutes.

  7. Transfer each packet to a plate and carefully cut open the top to allow the steam to escape.

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