Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top.

Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto

There’s nothing simpler than cooking fish en papillote (in parchment paper). Try it in this easy recipe for Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto.

Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top.
Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto

Don’t let those carrot tops go to waste! This Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto is a delicious way to enjoy them, with minimal effort and clean up.

Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top.

There’s a little bird that has nested in one of the Italian cypress trees that flanks one side of our driveway. She’s built the most perfect little home, a wonder in itself, and to my amazement, she is perched at my children’s eye level. Needless to say, they are delighted, and you can’t help but carefully peek every time you pass the little tree, to see if she is there.

But pretty soon, she will have company. She has been laying eggs! Tiny little eggs – which my kids compare to those speckled Easter robin’s egg candies. When she flies away, I carefully sneak a peek, and she has been laying one egg a day. So far, there are five little eggs, and I wonder how much more she will lay? I joke that we have enough for a little baby omelet, organic and locally sourced. But do not worry, the eggs are safe.

A marble surface with a bunch of fresh carrots with the tops on.

Carrot tops on a marble surface.

She’s not the only bird that has taken residence in our yard. There’s another nest in a tree across the way, as well as a bird that has made a home in our arbor. They’ve all been very busy, and when they fly about, I really sense that spring is in the air.

Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top and carrots alongside.


With these beautiful days and new life around us, it’s time to eat lighter. The halibut is simply perfect this time of year – so fresh and plentiful – and I’ve returned to one of my favorite ways of preparing it: en papillote. The fish is baked in parchment and it’s the simplest way to keep things light and healthy – and perhaps the best part is how serving it in en papillote means easier clean up, too.

Chopped leeks are placed on a sheet of folded parchment and then the fillets, carrots, and reserved carrot tops are arranged alongside. After adding the pesto and a drizzle of wine, the parchment is folded into packets and baked. The perfectly cooked fillets can be served right from the parchment paper packets!


I’ve been holding on to my carrot tops as I am realizing more and more that they’re more delicious eaten than thrown into the compost bin. By now you may have heard that carrot top pesto is a thing – and it’s a great way to use up your carrot tops if you don’t have little bunnies to feed. I used some in this simple recipe for Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto, and it infused the fish with a delicate flavor that is perfect for this time of year. 

Carrot top pesto comes together quickly. Just gather all the ingredients (carrots tops, basil, garlic, etc.) into a food processor and process. Blend in olive oil and it’s ready!

Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top.

Baked halibut in parchment paper with carrot top pesto on top.

Have you tried carrot top pesto? It goes well beyond fish – try it in soups, on chicken, roasted vegetables, and more.


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Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto

Don’t let those carrot tops go to waste! This Halibut en Papillote with Carrot Top Pesto is a delicious way to enjoy them, with minimal effort and clean up.
Course Condiments, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 965kcal


  • 2 cups carrot tops rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 small leek sliced once lengthwise, then cross cut in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb halibut divided into 2 fillets
  • 1-2 carrots sliced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine or substitute chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Reserve a few springs of carrot tops for the papillote.
  • Place the remaining carrots tops, basil, garlic, almond, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. With the food processor running, add the remaining olive oil slowly, until it is well blended. If you desire more creaminess, you may need to use a little more olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Swirl and soak the sliced leeks in a bowl of cool water, and let them sit to release any soil. Remove the leeks that have floated to the top and drain on some paper towels. Set aside.
  • Season halibut on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Take two pieces of parchment paper, about 12×16 inches. Fold in half along the longer side. Place the leeks along the fold, then lay the fillets on top. Arrange the carrots and the reserved carrot tops along the sides of the fish. Spread about two tablespoons of the pesto on each fillet. Drizzle with wine or broth.
  • Fold the parchment paper, creating tight seams and making sure the ends are secure. Place in a baking dish or pan and put in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Simply serve the fish in their packets, served with extra pesto, if you wish.


Carrot Top Pesto inspired by Velvety Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto, Sunset (April, 2012), via


Calories: 965kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 67g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 128mg | Sodium: 596mg | Potassium: 1530mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 7559IU | Vitamin C: 63mg | Calcium: 652mg | Iron: 10mg
Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see! Tag @kitchconfidante on Instagram and hashtag it #kitchenconfidante


Recipe Rating

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  1. JD -

    Hi Liren,

    So excited to feature this recipe on our Hungry Friday post! So sorry I missed your reply last Friday. Would still looooove to include this in the follow week’s feature because this is a recipe we’ve been wanting to try–and many more of your other recipes, including the nostalgic ones. We’ve got some work to do in our kitchen! Thanks for inspiring us. Maraming salamat!

    JD – 

  2. JD -

    Hello, Liren :-) Love your recipes and your blog–especially helps with the nostalgia as I try to recall some flavors from my short childhood in the Philippines. Will need to try that misua bola bola recipe soon. As for this recipe–it’s genius! Never thought of making pesto with carrot tops. Been bummed since we had to give our bunny away when we moved… and then having to throw a lot of stuff into the compost bin. Anyway, mind if we feature this post and 1 of your images for our Hungry Friday post this week? We’ll link to your recipe so our readers can find this delicious stuff right here on your blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

    JD – 

    • Liren Baker

      Hi JD! I’m so thrilled that my blog has brought back some wonderful nostalgia – I love sharing the flavors I grew up tasting, and it’s so fun hearing from readers like you! Sorry to hear that your bunny had to find a new home, but I do hope you try the pesto.

      I would be happy to see you feature this post in your Hungry Friday – feel free to use one image and a link back to the full recipe :) Thanks!

  3. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Hahahaha! A little omelet. Hilarious. :-) It’s the thing I love about our yard… all the nature we get to witness. We definitely get our share of birds, and rabbits and squirrels… all of which Maki loves to chase after. 

    This halibut is stunning. I love that this type of preparation really lets the fish shine. And such a great use of carrot tops! 

    • Liren Baker

      It would be the teeniest little omelet! I would need to find an appropriate skillet, of course. Think Sur La Table might have one? :)

      I can just imagine how much fun Maki is having in your yard – sounds like the move was a good idea all around ;)


    That fish is inspiring major cravings from this land-locked cook. I was just in SF and the doorman at our hotel goes fishing from the Presidio and recently caught a 30-pound halibut from the shore! 
    At least I can have carrot top pesto with some steelhead! Lovely and clean flavors in this spring dish!

    • Liren Baker

      Wow, a 30 lb halibut from the shore? That is so impressive! Wish I could send you some halibut, Lynne, but you’re right, the pesto would be great with any kind of fish. I love steelhead!

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