Dried Cod Salad with Leek and Almonds
This unusual salad is based on dried salted cod, which is cod that has been preserved by salting and drying. This ingredient is used around the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and has been produced in Newfoundland, Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands for more than 500 years. It used to be dried outdoors using the sun and wind, but modern dried cod is dried indoors using electric heaters. It needs to be rehydrated and desalinated before use.
The fish is often served in casseroles with onions and potatoes, or used to make battered croquettes in Europe. In Basilicata, Italy, it is sometimes prepared with peppers. The following recipe combines the fish with leek, almonds and pickles, to make an unusual, piquant and rustic salad. You can feel free to change the ingredients if you want, adding any vegetables you like, such as potatoes or beets, adding some hard-boiled egg slices, or even swapping the almonds for walnuts, adding some shredded cheese, or trying different herbs.
This salad needs to be started a few days in advance, or at least that is when you need to begin preparing the fish, soaking it in water and changing the water a couple times a day. The fish can then be combined with the other ingredients the day before serving the salad, then leave it in the refrigerator overnight so all the flavors can blend nicely. If you are looking for a make-ahead dish, this one is worth considering because it is deliciously different, and the other ingredients showcase the salt cod flavor so well.
- 1½ lbs dried salted cod
- ½ sliced cooked leek
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 finely sliced garlic cloves
- 3 chopped pickles
- ⅓ cup black olives
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup toasted almond halves
- Salt, to taste
- Cut the fish into 6 inch pieces 3 days before making the salad, and put it in a bowl.
- Pour in enough cold water to cover the fish, and change it twice a day, to remove most of the salt.
- The day before serving the salad, squeeze the fish dry and cut it into 2 inch pieces.
- Put the fish in a big bowl with all the other ingredients.
- Toss and add extra oil or salt if necessary.
- Chill the salad overnight so the flavors can blend.
Think of an Italian salad and what comes to mind? Perhaps a tomato, mozzarella and basil combo, or a creamy pasta salad. Something else which is popular around the Mediterranean, especially in Italy and Spain, is this dried cod salad. You can see it is colorful and unusual-looking, and this makes a tasty lunch, appetizer or side dish. Salted dried cod will keep for a long time, much longer than fresh fish, so if you like it, it is worth getting some and keeping it, then any time you want to make a tasty salad, you can use this ingredient to make exactly that.
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