Featured Recipe:

Fragrant Fish Parcels with Pearl Barley

A great way to cook fish is to steam it in parcels.   Here’s a simple recipe that never fails.   The fish, sealed in the packet with wine and a bouquet of vegetables and herbs, steams in its own juices absorbing all the natural flavors.

The packets can be served directly at the table or opened in the kitchen and served onto  individual plates.   I like to have each person open his own at the table so the first whiff can be savored as the parcel is opened.   Once the package is ready, the cooking time is under 15 minutes.

Barley is an ancient grain known to have been cultivated in Neolithic times.   Today, barley is used mostly for stews and soups, but it is very good simply boiled, seasoned and served as an alternative to rice.   This pearl barley will take about 30 minutes to make. Start it first and then make the fish dish.   It can also be microwaved. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high 20 minutes.    No time for barley?  Use a quick cooking rice instead.    

Helpful Hints:

  • Vermouth can be substituted for the wine.
  • Any type of white fish can be used such as tilapia, dolphin, sole.
  • Shredded carrots can be found in the produce section of the market.


  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Start Pearl Barley
  • Make fish.


3 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup frozen diced or chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 circles parchment paper or aluminum foil about 10-inches in diameter
2 6-ounce fish fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces
3 tablespoons dry white wine

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place olive oil, carrots, onion and mushrooms in a microwave-safe bowl. Toss gently.   Microwave on high 2 minutes.   Or, saute in a skillet 5 minutes. Divide the vegetables between the two parchment paper or foil circles.   Place one fish fillet on top of each of the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste Place basil leaves on top of fish.   Spoon wine over the fish. Close the parcels and seal the edges together.   Place the parcels on a baking tray.   Bake 8 minutes if using parchment paper, 12  minutes if using foil.   The fish is done when it is no longer translucent.   Serve the parcels on individual plates.   Makes 2 servings.


1/2 cup pearl barley

4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place barley and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 20 minutes or until barley is soft.   Drain and add the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.   Makes 2 servings.


Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes:

To buy:

  • 2 6-ounce fish fillets
  • 1 package pearl barley
  • 1 container sliced mushrooms
  • 1 package shredded carrot
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • 1 package frozen diced or chopped onion
  • 1 roll parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • 1 bottle dry white wine


  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black peppercorns


Entree Side Dish
Makes 2 servings.

Makes 2 servings.
Per Serving: Per Serving:

Nutrition Information

Calories 318 Calories from Fat 83.7
Percent of Cals from Fat   26%
Total Fat    9.3g
   Saturated    1.5g
   Monounsaturated    5.4g
Cholesterol    60mg
Sodium    142mg
Total Carbohydrate    17.1g
   Dietary Fiber    4.4g
Protein    39.6g

Nutrition Information

Calories 236 Calories from Fat 65.7
Percent of Cals from Fat   28%
Total Fat    7.3g
   Saturated    1.1g
   Monounsaturated    5.1g
Cholesterol    0mg
Sodium    5mg
Total Carbohydrate    38.9g
   Dietary Fiber    7.8g
Protein    5g

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of sixteen cookbooks including her newest, The Portion Plan: How to Eat the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight and Good-Carb Meals in Minutes. Visit Linda on her web page at or send her an email.

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