We are smack dab in the middle of holiday party season and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling less than enthusiastic about gaining the annual 5-10 pounds mainly due to exorbitant cheese consumption at what seems to be bi-weekly get togethers.
I’m hoping to keep things in check this year. By all means, I will be having some eggnog (in fact, I had some yesterday) and I will eat my share of cookies…..and cheese, but I hope to balance it out with some more vibrant, less heavy options that will keep my mind and body happy.
A traditional Christmas dish in Mexico, this treatment of salt cod is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of champagne or fancy dry martini. In Mexico it is eaten more as a stew sometimes with miniature, marble-sized potatoes or with rice but I think it makes perfect party food. Spooned onto crisped baguette slices it offers a healthy option that is by far more filling than pathetic little celery sticks.
Salt cod is one of those things that seems intimidating at first, I mean, what kind of food comes in a wooden box, covered in salt? But all it really needs is a little soaking to be turned back into a firmer and slightly more intense version of its former self. It is very common in Portugal, Spain, and France where it is whipped with potatoes, olive oil, and milk until luxuriously silky.
In Mexico it is stewed with onions, green olives, capers, and tomatoes and finished off with pickled jalapeños for a nice kick of heat. This is vivid party food for sure.
Plan ahead: Salt cod needs to soak for 24 hours before beginning the recipe.
This dish can also be served as a main course with rice.
- 1 pound salt cod
- 1 baguette
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushinghj;h;h
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup halved, large pimento-stuffed green olives
- 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and chopped
- 3 large pickled jalapeños, sliced
- pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- Soak cod in a large bowl of cold water for 24 hours, changing water several times.
- Drain cod and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices, removing any skin or bone. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water and boil over high heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oven to 425°F. Slice baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices and lay them on a baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and bake until golden and toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until starting to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or two then add the cod and tomatoes and cover. Cook about 10 minutes at a gentle simmer, then add olives, capers, clove, black pepper, and jalapeños. Simmer another 5 minutes.
- Stir in parsley, taste for salt and pepper, and serve immediately with baguette slices.