Mamma's Pasta e Baccalà
With Easter around the corner, this is the perfect time to buy boneless baccalà (salted cod) because you will need to soak it in water for 3 days. The flesh loses its saltiness and plumps up so beautifully. A good quality baccalà has no fish odour! Growing up in a traditional Southern Italian family from Donnici, outside Cosenza in Calabria, my mom prepared pasta e baccalà for Good Friday and Christmas Eve every year of my life. Now, this tradition is true for my 4 children too! In fact, this dish is soooo good, we enjoy this dish several times a year.
The tomato sauce is so delicious that we serve crostini to soak it up after the pasta! For a lighter version, skip the tomato sauce and serve the baccalà on a fresh green salad, lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Oh by the way, did I tell you that the baccalà is exceptional in fish tacos? Ya.... don't tell my mom!
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion sliced
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp hot chili flakes
- 1 can Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand the best quality you can afford
- 1 jar Italian tomato passata the best quality you can afford
- 1 spring fresh basil
- salt to taste
- 800 g boneless salted cod
- water to soak the cod
- 1 cup Flour to dredge can use gluten-free flour
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil to fry
- 450 g pkg pasta (linguine is traditional) can use gluten-free
Rinse baccalà and place it in a large container filled with water. Cover with a lid and refrigerate for 3 full days, changing the water every day. (Sometimes, I soak it for 5 days.)
Remove the baccalà from the water and rinse again. Pat dry with paper towel. Cut into 3cm X 4cm wide pieces, following the natural lines of the flesh.
Dredge each piece lightly in flour, removing the excess.
Heat oil in pan on medium-high heat. Fry until golden on both sides. Remove and set on paper towel-lined plate.
In the meantime, heat oil in large pot. Add the onions, oregano, and hot pepper. Saute until translucent and fragrant. Do not brown.
Stir in crushed tomatoes and passata. Be sure to rinse the containers with a little water and add to the pot. Simmer without lid for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt very lightly.
Add the fresh basil and fried baccalà. Submerge but do not stir aggressively as you do not want to break up the pieces. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Prepare pasta according to the package directions.
Remove a few ladles of sauce, leaving the pieces behind. Toss with the pasta and place on serving platter. Then top with baccalà pieces and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.
The tomato sauce is so delicious that we serve crostini to soak it up after the pasta!
For a lighter version, skip the tomato sauce and serve the baccalà on a fresh green salad, lightly dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
Oh by the way, did I tell you that the baccalà is exceptional in fish tacos? Ya.... don't tell my mom!