This is one of those dishes that I kind of hated as a kid. I’d always see it at Tréport or Roseto Club dinners, but salted cod was never really my thing until suddenly, one day it was. About a year or two ago, my mom decided to make baccalà in tomatoes with olives and it turned out so delicious that my opinion on tomato-stewed baccalà was completely changed!
Essentially, dried and salted cod, this fish is super salty and requires a few day’s soak to breathe some life back into the fillet and make it edible without spiking your blood pressure. Or, if you have poor planning like I sometimes tend to, you can also find fresh cod which requires absolutely no soaking!
Being quite nostalgic this Christmas season, I really wanted to make my Christmas Eve dinner a true homage to my nonna and my mom, who has now begun to take over so many of the culinary traditions that my nonna brought me up with. Though I spent much of my young life watching my nonna cook and create fantastical foodie masterpieces, I often tend to forget that my mom also was young once and saw my nonna do just the same, learning and remembering her techniques for a time that has now finally come.
Since I decided that a giant pescatarian-style dinner would be necessary to make my Christmas away from home really feel like Christmas, I made a list and did a big shop at both the outdoor market for fresh fish and produce, along with a stop to COOP and Mercatò Big. Luckily, Haven was there to help me to lug all my ingredients home!
So what was on the menu?
Linguine with clams in a white sauce
Baccalà with tomatoes and olives
Salmon stuffed with white fish
Of course, we also polished off several bottles of white wines including Arneis, Falanghina, Vermentino, Chardonnay and Prosecco!
Though we’d all been running around getting together for a Christmas class lunches and cooking up dumplings with Shiho or making kibbeh with Moises, I was glad to unwind a bit and take my place in the kitchen Christmas Eve eve and begin the festive cooking, listening to my Dixie Chicks Christmas song and sipping on hot chocolate, almost like it would be back home.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. In a single bite, this dish really captures Christmases at home for me and I hope it does for you too. Happy cooking and happy holidays!
. . .
Baccalà with Tomato and Olives
*Makes 4 servings*
1 medium sized white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
½ cup white wine
2 cans crushed tomatoes
4 pieces of fresh cod (or soak salted cod for 3 days, changing water several times)
⅓ cup olives
Over medium-high heat, add oil to a pan and add onions. Sauté for until translucent.
Toss in garlic and sprinkle in oregano and continue to sauté on low heat for another minute.
Pour in wine and let cook until liquid has evaporated, about five minutes.
Add tomatoes and bring to a gentle boil. Add pieces of cod and cook for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat and let simmer on low for about 40 minutes until tomato sauce has thickened and fish is cooked.