Friday, December 31, 2010

Taiarelli baccalá e noci

It's always exciting to get hold of new ingredients and find the inspiration to make new dishes with them. I managed to buy a slab of baccalá (Italian dried salted cod), and decided to make a pasta out of it. Out of this large piece of fish, I decided to make a couple of different olive oil based pastas and one tomato based. This is the first recipe, and I will prepare and publish the other two sometime in 2011. In this dish, the taste of baccalá blends with the onions, while the nuts and breadcrumbs add some texture. I used "Taiarelli di trito" as it's my favourite pasta, but this recipe can equally work with spaghetti, linguini or bucatini.

For this recipe I used the following ingredients:
  • A chunk of baccalá
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, squashed
  • 1 onion
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • 1 chilli padi, chopped
  • 4-5 walnuts and a few pistachios
  • A handful of breadcrumbs
  • Half a glass of white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Some grated orange peel (optional)
One or two days in advance, submerge the chunk of baccalá in cold water and place it in the fridge overnight (2 days is even better). Remove the baccalá from the water (discard the water), wash it and place it into a small skillet, covered in water, bring it to a slow simmer for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, finely chop  the onion and slowly sweat it on a frying pan. Add some of the water from the simmering cod if necessary, to protract the cooking time. When the onion is nicely soft (about 20 minutes) make a cream by blending it together with a few spoonfuls of cod water using an immersion blender. Toast the breadcrumbs on a perfectly clean frying pan (without any oil), until lightly browned, and set aside for later. Chop the walnuts and pistachios with a knife, some coarse and some fine. Make a small incision into each of the cherry tomatoes.

Remove the cod from the simmering water, then break it into flakes and set aside. On a large frying pan, pour generous olive oil and bring it to the heat. Add the squashed garlic, brown and remove. Add the cod flakes together with the chopped chilli, lightly fry them, then deglaze with the white wine. Finally, add the nuts and the cherry tomatoes until they pop. Remove from the heat.
When the pasta is almost cooked, drain it and add it to the frying pan together with the rest of the ingredients, back on the heat. Reduce the sauce with some of the water from the simmered cod, add a couple of spoonfuls of the onion cream, lightly sauteé and serve in portions, topped by a couple of the cherry tomatoes, the breadcrumbs and some orange zest to taste.

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