I think it was in Asturias, Spain that I first had cod with chickpeas. On that occasion, the dish had spinach but it was the subtle flavor of the cod that really surprised me amidst all the garbanzo beans.
Anyone who has not had codfish with chickpeas is probably wondering about how these two seemingly clashing ingredients can coexist so nicely. The truth is they both complement and enrich one another if given enough time and correct preparation. My recipe switches out the more conventional spinach in favor of Swiss chard to a more substantial vegetable presence. It’s important to provide enough stock for the ingredients so that the heat does not disintegrate them.
In winter or on a cool day, a plate of codfish with chickpeas is a good meal. Unlike other recipes with chickpeas, with potatoes or pork, this dish is exceedingly light. Cod is easily digested and the chard provides easily absorbed liquid. Potatoes are an optional ingredient if you desire more consistency or some starch.
It’s vital to properly de-salt the cod the night before. Otherwise the high salt content of the salted cod would ruin your recipe and possibly your health too. De-salt the cod by soaking it in water and changing the water three times from the evening before until preparation. Don’t worry about it losing too much salt. You can always add some later. Another key is to remember not to stir the pot. If you must stir, take the pot by the handles and shake it a bit. This prevents the chickpeas from breaking and the cod from disintegrating.
Once cooking is finished, let the casserole rest for a couple of hours to let the flavors settle and for the cod to impart its flavor fully into the stock. Resting the stew also lets the chard absorb flavor. Prior to serving, you can heat the dish on medium heat.
This is a dish that requires time to come together. It’s not the sort of thing to whip up if you’re in a hurry. Make sure to have a basket of good bread and to serve the chickpeas in a bowl. Bread is ideal too, as it lets you soak up every bit of wonderful stock. To drink, wine is suggested.
Yields 4 servings
1 pound boneless cod
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut
3 tomatoes, peeled and cut
3 scallions finely cut
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 16-ounce cans of chick peas, strained
8 ounces low sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
½ pound red potatoes cut in small dices
Salt and white ground pepper to taste
½ pound chard, rinsed and cut in medium size slices
1. Soak cod in cold water overnight to desalt. Change water at least twice in a 14 hour period.
2. Cook cod in fresh water at medium heat until it boils. Remove from heat, drain, cool and shred. Set aside.
3. In a deep pan, heat oil at low medium heat, sauté onion for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, tomato, one cut scallion and vinegar. Cook 3-4 minutes at low-medium heat.
4. Add cod and chick peas. Add paprika, a dash of white pepper, and mix. Add chicken broth, bay leaf and potatoes. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes at medium-low heat.
5. Add chards, cover and cook for 5 additional minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish with the remaining scallions.
To learn more about me or my recipes, visit me at DenisseOller.com and at AARP, where I am a chef and nutrition expert.