It doesn’t matter if you can pronounce en papillote; the appeal of this classic French technique is easy to understand. When you wrap salmon fillets in foil, then cook them in the oven (or on the grill), they basically roast in their own juices, locking in flavor and moisture throughout. In this recipe, they’re finished with a drizzle of herb sauce and served next to asparagus and couscous. Basically, it’s an equation for timeless, classic deliciousness.
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Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Halve, peel, and finely chop onion. Zest lemon until you have ½ tsp zest, then halve crosswise. Slice one half into thin rounds. Trim and discard bottom inch from asparagus stalks. Mince chives. Mince tarragon until you have 1 TBSP.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, tossing, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add 1 cup water and a large pinch of salt, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, add couscous. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand until rest of meal is ready.
Tear off two sheets of aluminum foil, each large enough to wrap a salmon fillet. Lay a salmon fillet on each. Season all over with salt and pepper. Place two lemon rounds on top of each, then sprinkle with a small amount of chives (save some chives for the sauce). Fold over aluminum foil and crimp edges to seal into two packets.
Place packets with salmon on one side of a baking sheet. Toss asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper on other side of sheet. Roast in oven until salmon is cooked through and asparagus is tender, 10-12 minutes. TIP: Be careful when unwrapping the cooked salmon—it may release steam.
In a small bowl, combine tarragon, remaining chives, half the zest, and a large drizzle of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze or two of lemon (to taste).
Fluff couscous with a fork and season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of remaining zest. Divide between plates along with salmon and asparagus. Drizzle with sauce and a squeeze of lemon. TIP: For a pretty presentation, leave the lemon rounds on the salmon— just remove them before eating.