Friday, June 15, 2007

Salt Cod & Spinach Pasticcio

Pasticcio of Salt Cod & Spinach
From Cucina Ebraica

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Roasting Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 - 6

1 lb/500 g salt cod fillets (salted cod is not for everyone - like me! so next time I'd just poach some milder flavoured white fish instead - tilapia, haddock....)
2 cup B├ęchamel sauce
2 lb/1kg baby spinach (rinsed well and drained)
4-6 tbsp butter
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup bread crumbs ( I used day-old multigrain bread )
¼ - ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Soak the salt cod in cold water for at least overnight, even 2 days works. Change the water at least 4 times. Many recipes said to do this, but only one actually said to leave the fish in the fridge during the process. Our kitchen smelled pretty strong, so after a couple of hours, it went into the fridge.

2. Drain the salt cod (it should be soft and plumped up) and place the fish in a large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring it to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so. The fish should be tender.

3. Drain the fish again, and break it up into small chunks. Remove any bones or tough parts of fish. Transfer the fish to a bowl.

4. Prepare the B├ęchamel sauce and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and butter a 8”x11” baking dish.

6. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until it’s all wilted – adding more as there’s room in the pan. Cook until there is very little liquid left. (Next time I'll be adding sauteed mushroom slices to this). Stir in the sauce, pepper and nutmeg and adjust for taste. Stir in the salt cod, mix well, taste for seasonings and transfer to the baking dish.

7. In a small skillet, melt the butter, add the bread crumbs to coat and crisp a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese. Mix quickly and spread evenly over the salt cod mixture.
8. Bake until golden and bubbly (about 30 minutes) and serve right away.

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