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Originally published Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Recipes: Fragrant Fish Parcel and Pearl Barley

This recipe for fish fillets pairs nicely with Pearl Barley.

By Linda Gassenheimer; McClatchy Newspapers

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.

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.

Fragrant Fish Parcel

Makes 2 servings

3 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup diced 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

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5 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn into small pieces

3 tablespoons dry white wine

1. 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.

2. 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. .

Per serving: 318 calories (26 percent from fat), 9.3 g fat (1.5 g saturated, 5.4 g monounsaturated), 60 mg cholesterol, 39.6 g protein, 17.1 g carbohydrates, 4.4 g fiber, 142 mg sodium.

Pearl Barley

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup pearl barley

4 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. 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.

Per serving: 236 calories (28 percent from fat), 7.3 g fat ( 1.1 g saturated, 5.1 g monounsaturated), no mg cholesterol, 5.0 g protein, 38.9 g carbohydrates, 7.8 g fiber, 5 mg sodium.

(Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks including her newest, "Mix 'n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes," and "Prevention's Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes." Visit Linda on her web page at www.DinnerInMinutes.com or email her at Linda@DinnerInMinutes.com.)

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