This recipe for Esqueixada–salt cod with onion, tomato, peppers, and olives–was one of my favorites from Chef Sixto Alonso’s tapas class at the International Culinary Center. Like many tapas dishes, it’s pretty simple, relying on a relatively small number of well-sourced ingredients combined with care.
Here, I love the mix of the salty cod with the briny olives and the brightness of the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and parsley. It’s a traditional salad in Catalonia, and reminds me of a Catalan version of ceviche. The name comes from the word “esquiexar,” meaning “to tear,” and refers to the style of breaking apart the cod. It’s a perfect recipe for summer, and, on a day like today as winter lingers, that’s what’s on my mind.
Esqueixada — Salt cod with onion, tomato, peppers, and olives
Yield: 4 servings
8 ounces salt cod, soaked and rinsed in cold water overnight
6 ounces green bell pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips
1 ounce good quality black olives (brine or oil cured), pitted and cut in slivers (it looks best if the slivers are approximately the same size as the bell pepper strips)
2 ounces red grape tomatoes, cute in quarters length-wise
4 to 6 red pearl onions, peeled and sliced into very thin rings (you could use another onion, I suppose, but these tiny, beautifully colored onions are adorable and help make the dish beautiful)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar
salt and pepper to tast
1/2 ounce fresh parsley, cleaned and chopped
Prepare the salt cod by soaking it overnight in cold water, rinsing it two to three time in the process. Before proceeding, pat the cod dry and tear it into small pieces by hand (do not chop with a knife). Pick over the cod pieces to remove any skin and/or bones.
Combine the cod with the peppers, olives, tomatoes, and onions. Dress with the oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped parsley. This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated for several hours.