This past week, Greeks celebrated Greek Independence Day on March 25th. I organized Greek Supper Club that was a celebration of Lenten food and as per tradition, salt cod was served to dinner guests.
March 25th is a double celebration as it also falls on Annunciation Day. Although this national holiday falls within Lent, salt cod is allowed to be consumed on this day and there are two stories surrounded with the allowance: the waters in the sea were often too choppy to fish so salt cod was permitted and the other, salt cod should be permitted so that those in remote mountain villages could also cook with fish on March 25th.
I love salt cod and I enjoy the traditional fried cod with skordalia but a little planning is needed as the salt cod must be soaked from 24-48 hours to desalinate and return the fish to being edible.
Another option is to choose fresh cod fillets, a wonderful, firm white meat that holds up well in the skillet or in the oven. This simple recipe borrows a little from Fish Plaki and from a Spetsiota-style fish with tomatoes, parsley, Greek oregano, garlic, lots of Greek olive oil and salt and pepper.
I was also recently sent a sampler of Tesoro tomatoes, a hybrid, it’s meaty, no gel and it’s the best option when looking for a cooking tomato in the off-season. Although Tesoro says it is cooking tomato, I can assure you they work very well in salads too!
The Tesoro tomato has a great shelf life and like any tomato, never store in the fridge but a cool, dry place (I place them in my cellar). The Tesoro tomato lifted this dish out of winter and into spring.
Roast Cod With Tomato Caper Crust
4 boneless/skinless fresh cod fillets (or desalinated Norweigan salt cod)
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-5 Tesoro or plum tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. of capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
extra-virgin olive oil for finishing
Caper berries for garmish
Pre-heated 400F oven
- Rinse your cod and pat dry. Lightly season your fillets with salt and pepper and stand for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, add the olive oil (1/4 cup) and the sliced onions, some salt and pepper and sweat for 5-6 minutes or until just translucent. Remove from the heat and spread on the bottom on your baking sheet.
- In a food processor, add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, garlic, capers and wine and pulse until the mixture is blended but some pieces of tomato remain. Allow the mixture to marry for 30 minutes. Pre-heat your oven.
- Place the cod on top of the onions on the baking tray. Spoon sauce over the fish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
- Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and bake until the sauce has firmed up and the breadcrumb topping has formed a crisp, light-brown crust (approx. 30 minutes).
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool before serving. Serve with green beans, roast potatoes and pair with an Agyros Atlantis red.
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