Although “gemista” (stuffed oven-baked vegetables) are served in every Greek house during the summer, with infinite variations, stuffed casserole peppers can be made all year round. The only difference is that in winter I prefer to fill long red sweet Florina peppers, while in summer…
Salt cod with chickpeas is also made in the island of Crete , however, we will be making Bacalao con Garbanzos, a version of the traditional Spanish recipe. This is a healthy, colorful, aromatic dish packed with nutriens from the vegetables, pulses and fish. It is also well suited to quarantine cooking as all ingredients can be kept for a while in the fridge and pantry.
When I say a “a version”, it is because traditional recipes have many presentations, as they have been developed over the years, by generations and generations. So, they appear in different versions with slight differences in technique or ingredients, according to what’s available from one place to another. However, what they usually have in common, is the economic management of seasonal materials, as well as their wise combinations, maximizing nourishment and enjoyment.
In this case, the fish enhances the absorption of iron from chickpeas, while vegetables, such as peppers and tomatoes, supplement vitamins and nutrients. The smoked paprika completely differentiates the dish from it’s greek counterpart. You can replace it or mix it with sweet paprika if you don’t think your young partners will accept it.
It’s also a traditional dish of Catholic Lent. I imagine that the dried legumes and the salt-preserved fish were suitable for the end of winter and the beginning of spring, when the new crops are still scarce. Such delicious dishes are meant comfort us until the rich bounty of warmer seasons arrives.
It’s a dish that was cooked in quarantine conditions. So, all its ingredients can wait in your pantry (which includes the modern fridge in my book), now that we’re limiting our market visits. The cod is preserved in salt, the chickpeas are dry, the tomatoes are canned and onions and garlic can wait for us patiently in the right conditions. Peppers keep in the fridge, but if you don’t have fresh ones, you can use a jar of roasted red ones. You’re just going to add them towards the end along with the fish, since they’re already cooked.
Salt cod needs to be rehydrated and de-salted. So, ideally, preparation would start two days before cooking. First you need to pull off the cod’s skin with the help of a sharp knife. Then you put it in a large glass basin with plenty of water to soak. You can place a small plastic grid in the bottom of the basin, so that when the melted salt falls to the botom the fish will remain higher up. Cover the basin and place in the fridge. You change the water every six hours over 48 hours. You can de-salt it in 24 hours, but you will need to change the water every 3-4 hours. I do it over 48 hours, alongside the preparation of the chickpeas.
For the chickpeas now, we’ll soak them for 24 hours and then sprout them for another 24 hours, as described here. This way they become easier to digest and more nutritious. Before cooking the dish, you will need to gently boil the chickpeas for 40′, if they have only been soaked and 20′ if they have also been sprouted. Boil them until soft but not melting. You can replace them of course with two drained and washed cans of chickpeas. They are not readily available in Greece.
Salt Cod and Chickpeas Recipe
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 kg dried chickpeas
- 800 gr. salted cod
- 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
- 2 green peppers, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, sliced and optionally 5-6 pearl onions, whole
- 1 leek, sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 400 gr. tomato, grated
- 1 tbsp smoked or sweet paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric, ground
- 1 tsp cumin, ground
- 1 bay leaf
- 120 ml cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper, be very light-handed with the salt as the cod is well seasoned
You soak the cod and soak & sprout and boil the chickpeas as above. Keep half a liter of the boiling liquid and strain them.
Heat a large, wide saucepan or a deep skillet. Heat the oil and sauté the onions, leek and peppers with a little salt, for 5-7 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, bay leaf and cumin. As soon as they release their aroma, add paprika and turmeric and stir well. Next, pour in the vinegar. Once it’s almost evaporated, stir in the chickpeas, tomato and half the water. Keep the rest of the water aside, and add a little if the sauce seems dry during cooking.
Bring to the boil, cover and lower the heat. Let the sauce simmer for 20′-30′ until reduced. Cut the cod into large bite-sized pieces. Then remove the lid and carefully add the fish, pouring the chickpea and vegetable sauce over it with a spoon. Let it simmer for 8 minutes uncovered or until the fish is cooked through and easily flaked. Taste and season if necessary.
Serve if preferred with chopped parsley, lemon zest and a green salad.
Winter cabbages are so sweet and tasty, especially when braising gives the such a silky taste. Stuffed cabbage leaves may very well be my winter favorite, but we’ll leave those for another day. In this recipe we are looking a a very easy, fast, midweek,…
When I first wrote about the wonderful no-knead bread dough that waits patiently in the fridge for whenever you need it, I promised you variations like this delicious olive-bread with herbs. It can be a quick snack on its own. If you have 3 minutes more you can also make a perfect sandwich or bruschetta with:
- Feta and tomato or
- Cheese spread and red peppers or even
- Kefir cheese with grilled vegetables
Follow the instructions for the basic dough, which you can keep 10-14 days in the refrigerator. When you want to make some for olive bread, you take the amount you need, roll it out, add your filling and roll it back again. Fold the edges, let it rise and it’s ready to bake! It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes.
See the detailed instructions here:
- No-knead dough that has fermented for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator
- Half a cup of Kalamata or green pitted olives, sliced in half or in slices
- 1-2 pinches of oregano
Every time you want to make bread, you first prepare a piece of parchment with a little flour on your counter. Preheat your dutch oven with the lid on at 230 C. Take the dough out of the fridge. Sprinkle with a little flour, so that the dough does not stick to your hands. Pull out a piece of dough about half a kilo. As the dough is very elastic, it helps to cut it with the kitchen scissors.
Place it on the floured surface and very quickly fold the edges towards the center, going around to form a ball. Turn the ball over with folds under it and sprinkle with flour.
The dough is very soft. So, roll it out gently into an oblong shape, approximately 2-3 cm thick.
Spread the olives and oregano all over the surface.
Roll up the dough carefully, without pressing it too hard.
Fold the edges of the roll inward and turn it over with the folds downwards.
Turn the loaf with your hands around the sides, to give it a round shape again and let it rise for 40′.
Before baking your loaf, slash a deep cross into the dough with a sharp bread knife and sprinkle with flour. Prepare the spot where you will place the hot dutch oven and make room for the hot lid next to it. Take the pot out of the oven using gloves. Set it down in a safe place, take off the lid and leave one glove on the lid (otherwise I tend to forget how hot it is and grab the lid with bare hands). Holding the parchment paper taut with both hands, transfer the loaf as it is into the center of the dutch oven carefully. Use GLOVES to cover it and put it back in the oven.
Bake covered for 20′ and for a further 10 minutes without the lid. If you are making a larger loaf, adjust the baking time by 5′. The maximum baking time, if you use all the dough, is 30 ‘ covered and 20 ‘ without the lid.
When preparing beans I usually soak and sprout twice the amount needed for my recipe. Leftover pulses are stored in the freezer for immediate use in another recipe. What does “sprouting” mean? First, I wash the pulses well. Then, I soak them in plenty of…
I have been meeting the most wonderful people from all over the world at the Onion Athens‘ cooking workshops over the past few months. I adore sharing traditional Greek recipes just as much as learning participants favorites too. Just last week Garry and Cindy mentioned…
A delicious and filling meze made from almost nothing: flour, oil, onion, tomato and herbs. It seems to symbolise all the simple beauty of the Cycladic islands. A traditional flatbread made in the tiny island of Kimolos with plenty of olive oil, to which it owes its name. It is very easy, vegetarian, smells of Greek summer and is easily transported for a picnic or as a snack on the beach. Come to think of it, always tastes better outdoors, even if we’re just on the verandah, where there’s often a couple of rocket leaves growing in a little pot, to add on top.
Although I have heard it called Greek pizza, to me it seems more similar to a focaccia, so I sometimes replace the more traditional oregano with rosemary or sage. You can also add olives or capers if you prefer. Just like focaccia, our Ladenia can make a great sandwich, cut in half and filled with lovely Greek traditional cheeses or deli meats.
The recipe is available in many versions with small differences between them. I use Chef Peskia’s one that you can watch here from the master himself. The only small change is a little more vegetables.
What works for me is to make the dough the night before and let it gently rise in the fridge. This way it doesn’t not need kneading, just a good stirring to incorporate all the ingredients. This way I can bake it the next day without waiting for it to rise. Once the ingredients are well mixed, just cover the bowl with a plate and refrigerate. It lasts for days, waiting patiently. If you choose this method, you will spread out the dough in the baking tin as described below and just leave it for a total 20 ‘ to come to room temperature. It’s just enough time for you to preheat the oven and prepare the vegetables.
- 450 g. bread flour
- 300 ml warm water
- 8 g. dry yeast
- 1 pinch of sugar
- Salt, pepper
- 1 tbsp dry oregano
- 70 g. olive oil
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 small onions
- Fresh thyme
Using a large bowl, stir the yeast into the lukewarm water, then add the flour, sugar, salt and oregano immediately. Mix well and knead for 10 minutes. Grease the dough, cover and leave it for 45 ‘ to double in volume.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170 C. Cut the tomatoes and onions into thin wedges. Not too thin so that they don’t burn during baking. Mix in a bowl along with the salt, pepper, thyme and 2 tbsps of the measured olive oil. Spread the remaining oil around your baking pan and spread the dough out with your hands, making small indents with your fingers. Scatter the vegetables over the top and bake for 50′ to an hour.
It’s a great blessing to have friends who share your interests, especially when they’re willing to share their own experience. Calliope comes from small Stomio Larissas in central Greece and is fortunate to receive regular reinforcements in the form of food parcels from her village.…