There is a Season: Big love for bacalao

  • Baccala con Peperoni Arrostiti MOLLY PARR

Published: 9/24/2020 12:59:44 PM

Six months into quarantine, and one of the things I miss most is driving to Nino’s, the Italian spot in Waterbury that my extended family has been meeting at for 30 years. I want to dive head first into a plate of pillowy gnocchi that’s been tossed with Alfredo sauce and broccoli, spread garlicky beans and broccoli raab on crusty bread, and finish it off with some bacalao.

Seeing my family in one spot may still be over a year away, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have the food at home. Last month I shared an easy eggplant parm here, and with all those who wrote in to tell me how much the dish was enjoyed, I’m taking it as a sign that we can continue down this road. For me, salt cod, or bacalao, is a dish I love eating in Italian restaurants. I had such a hankering for salt cod that I had my dear husband track it down for me. Thankfully, Stop & Shop had it, packaged in a wooden box, no less!

This one takes some time, but not a lot of effort. I soaked the dried fish in a large bowl of cold water in the refrigerator, changing the water a few times a day for about 48 hours. The other big lift, which also requires very little effort, was roasting the red peppers. For those, I roasted them whole in a 400-degree oven on a foil-lined sheet, turning them a quarter every 15 minutes until blackened all over. At that point, I placed the steaming peppers into a large bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and waited a few minutes so the skin would peel right off. (Or, you can just buy a jar at the grocery store.)

After all that work, the recipe itself, which I found in an Arthur Schwartz cookbook, takes two minutes to assemble with another eight spent in a screaming-hot oven. It was fantastic. We enjoyed this with part of my family — my parents on their outside deck — with leftovers for days.

Baccala con Peperoni Arrostiti (Casserole of Salt Cod and Roasted Peppers) from “Naples at Table: Cooking in Campania” by Arthur Schwartz

Ingredients

4 medium sweet red peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch strips

1 pound boneless and skinless salt cod, soaked and boiled 10 minutes, broken into pieces

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

One quarter cup finely cut parsley

6 Tablespoons fine, dry bread crumbs

One quarter cup extra-virgin olive

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450F degrees

Place the prepared roasted peppers in a shallow casserole that accommodates about a quart.

Break up the cooked salt cod into chunky pieces and flakes and add to the peppers. Do not mix yet.

Add the garlic, parsley, the bread crumbs, the olive oil and the black pepper. Toss well to mix. (May be made ahead to this point.)

Bake for about 8 minutes, until the bread crumbs on the surface brown lightly.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.




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