Simple and Flavorful: Cod en Papillote with Pesto

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Who doesn’t love an easy-to-make dinner with easy cleanup? Cod en papillote is one of my favorite spring and summertime dishes because it involves so few utensils. Plus, it’s a creative way to use vegetables straight from the garden!

Thanks to my mom, I learned this cooking technique as a kid. Even as an adult, cooking “en papillote” is a fun and elegant way to cook a healthy meal.

Every time I make this, the fish comes out perfectly flaky. I prefer using cod because it’s a mild, soft white fish that cooks quickly and takes on lots of flavors. I also love pesto, so this recipe incorporates jarred basil pesto to save a little time.

If you are up to making your own pesto, check out some of my Sorrel & Basil recipe. And if you are feeling extra adventurous, I have a delicious recipe for Asparagus Pesto.

What is Cod en papillote?

The term “en papillote” is French for ‘in paper.’ Cod en papillote is a recipe for baking cod in a parchment paper pouch. Alternatively, you can use aluminum foil if you don’t have any parchment paper on hand.

I prefer using parchment paper because it looks elegant and can make a weeknight meal feel like a special occasion. Plus, seeing the pouch puff up and cut through the steamy paper to reveal the finished meal is fun.

How to pronounce ‘en papillote’ : Ahn-Pap-Pee-Yaht

How to make my Cod en Papillote with Vegetables and Pesto

To make this recipe of Cod en Papillote you’ll lay cod and fresh vegetables onto a sheet of parchment paper. You’ll simply season them and top with prepared basil pesto. Lastly, you’ll fold the edges of the parchment paper to enclose your ingredients, creating a pouch.

Baking will only take you about 15 minutes to do. The goal is to get the fish cooked through and vegetables lightly steamed. When done, you can either eat your meal straight from the packet or plate it with your favorite grain.

1-minute Video: How to Make Cod en Papillote with Vegetables & Pesto

One minute video that shows how to cut your parchment paper and seal the packet for Cod en Papillote.

Vegetable combinations for Cod en papillote

I use fresh broccoli, shallot, and cherry tomatoes in this recipe. The wonderful thing about this technique is that you can use a variety of your favorite vegetables. So many ingredients can pair well with cod and absorb the earthy flavors of the pesto.

Here are several vegetable combinations to try with cod:

  1. Thinly sliced Onion and Bell Pepper
  2. Mushrooms and Broccolini
  3. Green beans and Corn
  4. Sugar snap peas and Shallots
  5. Zucchini and Red Onion
  6. Diced Eggplant and peppers

What other types of fish work for this recipe?

Because the availability of certain fish varies amongst regions and seasons, you may find yourself looking for an alternate fish to use in this recipe. I recommend using any white fish filet similar in mildness and skinless like cod. Some suitable substitutes for cod in this recipe are:

  • Mahi Mahi
  •  Sea Bass
  •  Whiting
  •  Grouper
  •  Haddock
  •  Pollock

If you need more fish substitute ideas, check out this article by Epicurious.

All in All

I love the fresh vegetables, steamed white fish, and tasty pesto. Cooking fish in a parchment paper pouch takes little effort and can even be prepped one day ahead. A big time-saver on my weeknights!

Cooking cod en papillote is worth a try if you want a simple, healthy recipe with minimal cleanup afterward. 

Enjoy, and let me know how you like this recipe!

Cod en Papillote with Vegetables and Pesto

5 from 9 votes
Course Dinner
Cuisine French
Servings 1 person


  • 1 sheet of parchment paper
  • Oven
  • kitchen shears


  • 1 Cod filet 4 – 5 ounces
  • 1/8 cup Broccoli florets chopped into small pieces
  • 4-5 Cherry Tomatoes left whole
  • 1 tbsp Basil Pesto


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Start by cutting of parchment paper into a large heart shape. Lay flat on counter.
  • On one side of the "heart", layer vegetables and season lightly with salt and pepper. Top with fish filet and cover the fish a heaping tablespoon of pesto.
  • Fold the empty side of paper over the fish and vegetable medley to enclose the food. Starting at one end , make very tight overlapping folds. When you reach the end, twist the paper closed to prevent leaking.
  • Place packet on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake for 14-15 minutes and remove. Allow packet to sit 1-2 minutes and then carefully cut open.
  • Serve fish and vegetables while warm.
Keyword broccoli, fish, pesto, tomato


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