June 4, 2010

Weeknight Dinner: Salmon al Cartoccio

Note: As of 30 April 2018, the images in this post are nowhere to be seen. I'm currently debating whether to dig around in an external hard drive to find them or to surrender them to the universe. My photography was so bad at the time that the greater forces of my blog may be trying to do me a favor.

Don’t let the fancy name fool you; this is a very easy dish to prepare, making it perfect for those busy weeknights. You know, when it’s already eight o’clock and you’re working on simplex tableaus for your Finite Math class and have “Money Can’t Buy You Class” by Luann from The Real Housewives of New York annoyingly stuck in your head and you just want something quick and yummy. One of those nights.

Or is that just me?

Either way, this meal serves two purposes, really. One, it’s an easily prepared, healthy, and all-around delicious dish for any day of the week. Two, chopping tomatoes will inadvertently help banish any unwanted eighties, Madonna-esque songs from your head.
In layman’s terms, Salmon al Cartoccio is just basically a fillet of salmon, topped with a lovely mixture of tomatoes, shallots, lemon, oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper.


While anything cooked “al cartoccio” is generally baked in parchment paper, for simplicity’s sake this recipe uses aluminum foil, a much more manageable and forgiving medium. Not to mention how beautifully it keeps messes at bay.

Anyway, the first step in your quest for simplicity, peace, and tranquility through an easy salmon recipe begins with combining the chopped tomatoes, shallots (or onions if you are shallot-less like moi), lemon juice, oregano, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

A lovely sight…I’ll give you a minute to bask.
After you’ve got that all mixed up, it’s time for the salmon. First, lay out a piece of aluminum foil and spoon about a teaspoon of olive oil onto the foil.

I believe in generous teaspoons.
The time has come for salmon! Place one salmon fillet on top of the olive oiled foil, turning it to coat. Then, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on the salmon, which I obviously forgot to do. It’s actually not a big deal if you forget.

Do as I say, not as I do.
Moving on!

Now, add a generous spoonful of the topping.

Okay, two generous spoonfuls.
Next, it’s time to wrap up your little bundle of tomato-y, garlic-y, oregano-y, thyme-y goodness. The key to a leak-proof packet is as follows.

One, bring a set of opposite sides together.

Like so.
Two, roll the foil down until you reach the salmon, taking care that it is well sealed.

Three, roll the two other ends towards the center, again making sure that they are pressed and well sealed.

Make a couple of others in the same manner and pop ‘em in the oven at 400˚ F for 25-30 minutes. Since you’ll probably be wanting more than just fish for dinner, towards the end of cooking time, throw a steamer bag of broccoli in the microwave.

Hey, I know it’s nothing fancy, but we’re talking dinner in a rush, not dinner-I-have-time-to-wash-chop-season-and-roast-broccoli-like-a-superstar-chef.

These things will be your best friend. And yes, I blurred the brand name. What can I say? The thought of copyright infringement strikes terror into my soul.
And there you have it! After about half an hour in the oven, you’ve got dinner!

Take a gander at the recipe and give it a try one of these days.

Salmon al Cartoccio
Recipe adapted from "Salmon Baked in Foil" from “Everyday Italian” by Giada de Laurentiis

3 Tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 tablespoons Olive Oil plus 4 teaspoons
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Big pinch Cayenne Pepper
4 Salmon fillets

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Stir together the tomatoes, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spread a teaspoon of olive oil in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil; repeat for three more sheets of foil. Place a piece of salmon on top of each sheet of foil, turning it on both sides to coat. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Spoon a generous amount of the herby tomato lemon mixture over each piece of salmon. Fold opposite sides of the foil together, and then roll down tightly over the salmon, then tightly roll each end towards the center. 

Place the foil packets in a baking pan lined with aluminum foil and bake for about 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets.

Once done, unwrap each packet and, with a spatula, transfer each fillet to a plate.


  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2010

    Yum, Yum, Yum! This recipe was delicious. I was in the mood for fish but hadn't been grocery shopping lately and had limited supplies. Just enough items to try this late at night when dinner plans waited until after laundry and treadmill time. Your instructions and photos were great, and the entire dish tasted beyond my expectations.Thanks.

  2. AnonymousJune 06, 2010

    This is a yummy recipe! Post more! I'm hungry! Risotto maybe???? ;)

  3. Risotto maybe???? I think I can guess who this is! :D

  4. AnonymousJune 08, 2010

    Sorry, you know I always push for risotto!


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