Friday, 21 February 2014

Salt Cod Stew, with Chickpeas, Spinach and White Beans

So, having put up my Salted Chillies recipe, I was reminded of my Salt Cod Stew recipe which we had last night, re-heated from the freezer (which it does rather well!).

The best thing about this dish, is that you don't have to buy salt cod and soak it overnight - you can make this with fresh cod, using my easy method of salting and cooking it, which takes just over an hour and gives you tender, moist, subtly salty cod flakes!

It also makes enough for six to eight people (or many more if serving as a selection of tapa), stretching an expensive fish a long way, and... freezes well!

So, why not have a go?

Potaje de Garbanzos, Judías Blancas, Bacalao y Espinacas
(Chickpea, White Bean, Salt Cod and Spinach Stew)

Serves six as a hearty meal, eight as a lighter meal, and probably a good dozen as tapas! Freezes well, so you can portion it up for future meals in small bags.  347 calories per serving between six (261 calories between eight, 174 between twelve).

Don’t be put off by the idea of salt cod – it’s really easy to make the equivalent to de-salted salt cod (Bacalao), with just an hour’s salting, and 30 minutes soaking and it’s delicious! Use any combination of chick peas, butter beans and white beans you fancy, as long as they add up to around 850g cooked weight.

If you're not counting calories, be indulgent and serve it drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil, some crusty bread and some Alioli (Spanish-style garlic 'mayonnaise') on the side…


500g fresh cod fillets, skin on (or 250-285g Bacalao/Spanish salt cod) [400]
Coarse sea salt
Approximately 850g cooked chickpeas/white beans of choice, you can use just one, or mix them up to your tastes (or what you’ve got available!) – I used:
235g chickpeas* (I used home-cooked, defrosted, see tip below – equivalent to one drained tin) [307]
360g butter beans (1 ½ drained tins) [389]
246g cannellini beans (1 drained tin) [209]
1 tsp olive oil [45]
75g diced chorizo sausage (check ingredients if cooking gluten free) [254]
2 onions, peeled, quartered and sliced (200g) [82]
2 (fresh) bay leaves
6 fat cloves of garlic, sliced or crushed [36]
800g peeled, chopped tomatoes (tinned is fine) [200]
1 tbsp smoked mild/sweet paprika (or plain) [18]
¼ tsp cayenne/chilli/pinch of chilli flakes (optional) [2]
250ml hot fish stock (or use vegetable, I use Knorr Touch of Taste) [13]
Generous pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp hot water [1]
500g fresh baby leaf/350g frozen spinach (defrosted), roughly chopped [125 fresh, 77 frozen]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste [1]
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to serve [2]

Firstly, salt the cod (if you’re using fresh cod). Place the cod fillets in a single layer, skin side down, on a plate or dish which will catch liquids that are released from the cod when it is salted. Sprinkle reasonably generously (see photo below) with coarse sea salt (don’t use fine, or it will be too salty) and leave for an hour (no longer). By this time, the cod will have released some liquid and absorbed some of the salt flavour. Rinse off all of the salt, then place in a container with plenty of cold water for 30 to 45 minutes, changing the water twice (after 10-15 minutes, then again). Remove, pat dry and set aside. (If you’re using Bacalao, soak it in 4 or 5 litres of water overnight, for up to two days, depending on the thickness, changing the water 3 or 4 times).

Put a very large, heavy-based pan (e.g. wok-sized) over a medium-low heat on the hob and add the olive oil. Fry the chorizo for 3 or 4 minutes until it releases its oils. Turn the heat down to low, then add the onions and bay leaves, and gently fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened and just starting to turn golden. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne/chilli if using, and cook for another minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes, fish stock and saffron, turn up the heat, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat back down a little, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until reduced and thickened a little. Add the chickpeas and beans and cook for a further ten minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil, turn the heat right down to low, and add the salted cod to the water for 5 or 6 minutes, until only just cooked, then remove and put on a plate for a couple of minutes, until cool enough to handle. Use your hands to gently break the cod into large flakes, discarding the skin (and any bones you find).

Add the spinach, some salt (about ½ tsp) and freshly ground black pepper to the stew, and stir in, cooking for a couple of minutes until it has wilted (if using fresh), then add the flaked cod, and very gently stir through, trying not to break up the flakes. Taste for seasoning, and add extra salt if required – the cod is quite salty, so you probably won’t need any. Serve sprinkled with the fresh, chopped parsley and enjoy!

*If you buy dried chick peas, you can soak the whole packet overnight (follow guidelines for how much water to use – or if you forget to soak overnight, put in a large pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil, simmer for two minutes, turn off the heat and leave in the water to cool down for an hour, and then cook) and then cook the whole batch the next day, cool and freeze in a  re-sealable bag. Once they’re frozen, you can just give the bag a gentle bash to separate them, then conveniently pour out what you need to add to curries, soups, stews, or make hummous etc. and they last a long time in the freezer. It’s much cheaper than buying tinned, and they have a far superior flavour and texture without the tinny taint to the flavour.


  1. Hi Andrea. Hey I clicked your link for Salted Chillies, as that sounds delicious to me, but it just points to a dead blog site - forkingfun. You in a former guise I assume. Although this Salt Cod Stew is yummy itself, I'd like that other recipe also.

  2. Thank you so much for that, Amateur Cook, I will go and mend the broken link right now :)


Related Recipes

If you liked this recipe, you may also like these...