My 450-pound dad had been in every diet known to man — Akins, Weight Watcher’s, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Tapeworm Diet. When nothing worked his bosses at McCann Erickson ad agency sent him on a six-month paid medical leave to the “Fat Farm” at Duke University, where he would be expected to lose a significant amount of weight on the popular Rice Diet. He lost 175 pounds eating rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The morning bowl had a miniscule piece of canned peach, the lunch serving had a small portion of dry chicken and the evening bowl included a serving of broiled salmon. When he came home he vowed never to eat rice again but was looking for flavorful staples that would keep his newly trimmed body svelte. This parchment paper salmon became his favorite — even my mom, who hated domestic chores, found this manageable — placing all the ingredients in a foil pack and baking. Voilà, an instant meal, with no clean up.
Yield: 1 serving, but make as many packages as needed and lay them all on a baking sheet
2 16-inch sheets of baking parchment paper (or tin foil) for lining the baking sheet
2 rosemary sprigs, or basil or dill, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand
1 6-ounce salmon fillet, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup sliced leeks, zucchini or other squash
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon dry white wine
Juice of half a small lemon or lime, squeezed on top
1) Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Place a double layer of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Lay the herbs in the center of the paper and place the salmon on top of the sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the zucchini or other squash, tomatoes and garlic over the fish.
2) Pour the white wine over everything. Seal the packet closed by folding the long sides of the paper together. Fold all ends to make a package and flip over. Place the sealed square(s) on the baking sheet. Make sure each square is sealed tightly so no steam can escape.
3) Bake for 15 minutes. Before serving, slowly open the package and squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Use a spatula to transfer to a plate.
Recipe from “My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, Family, and Recipes” by Dawn Lerman, Berkley Books/2015.