For us lucky ducks living in Melbourne we have modern Spanish tapas restaurant Movida which is some of the best Spanish food outside of Spain. Actually, from my brief rendezvous with Spain, I find the food better here (am I allowed to say that out aloud? Maybe I just need to go back *wink*).
I received Movida’s cookbook a number of years ago, and today was the first time I’ve cooked from it, having recently gone back to the restaurant for the first time since it’s opening year. While I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel, the worst thing was being kicked out for the 8pm sitting. I hate that about Melbourne dining and usually avoid these places often finding that the food and ambience don’t match the hype. Not Movida!
But I digress, this isn’t a blog to blow smoke up their tush. No. What I’m most on about is rather than wait 3 weeks for a 6pm sitting on a Friday night, why not bring Movida to the home table? The recipes are accessible with few, mostly humble ingredients. The flavour is in the technique that maximises flavour and texture…something that has been perfected over many years and a passion to never, ever eat boring.
Here in Australia (also the US and UK, which I’m less experienced to comment on) we naturally have pretty poor cuisine and I think that’s why we have become food fixated (ahem…not naming anyone superfoods, paleo, raw). We are worse off nowadays with a problem never seen in history…too much nutrition! Simply, we’ve thought about food too much.
That’s why getting back to basics and what our ancestors were eating is my go-to for healthy meals. Which brings me to the the reason we’re here: Aromatic chickpea potage with spinach and salt cod. You might recognise salted cod as Baccala on Italian menus, or Bacalao on Spanish ones. Either way, you’ll find it in continental supermarkets, food markets, or like me, find cryovac smoked cod at boutique supermarkets like McCoppins in Clifton Hill and Hawthorn (Melbourne). Either way, ask around and it shouldn’t be too hard to find if you’re willing.
Now for the recipe…
Aromatic Chickpea Potage with Spinach and Salt Cod
Potaje de garbanzos con espinacas y bacalao
300g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 garlic bulb + additional 4 unpeeled cloves
2 bay leaves
100ml extra virgin olive oil
200g dried salt cod, soaked in cold water for 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours. Can use cryovac version which doesn’t need soaking, just blot dry
1 tsp saffron threads
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
4 egg yolks
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch English spinach (approx 500g), leaves picked, washed and thickly shredded
1-2 slices of stale crusty bread (dontcha just love no waste?!)
- Drain chickpeas and place in large saucepan with the half garlic bulb, bay leaves, 50ml of olive oil (half), and the whole tomatoes. Cover with warm water and bring to the boil over high heat, reduce to medium and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours until chickpeas are tender but not loosing their skins.
- Remove and reserve the garlic and tomatoes, discarding the tomato skins
- Meanwhile, prepare the cod by either draining the salted preserved cod, or blotting the cryovac cod. Using your hands, break up the flesh into bite sized pieces, discarding any bones, touch skin and other inedible parts (nb. the cryovac version will already be filleted and boneless).
- Toast the saffron in a dry pan for about 90 seconds until slightly darkened. Set asside and add the cum seeds to the pan and toast for 90 seconds also.
- With a large mortar and pestle grind the seeds, adding the cooked garlic cloves (squeezed from skins), tomato, and egg yolks. Pound until a smooth paste forms.
- Add this spice mix paste to the chickpeas and cooking water (that has been infused with garlic and tomato during cooking), along with the cod, and salt and pepper. Mix well then add the spinach. Let the mix bubble on gentle for a few minutes while you prepare the final part
- Heat the remaining 50ml of olive oil in a pan, adding the bread and unpeeled garlic cloves. Cook until the bread is golden and the outsides of the garlic has been darkened and flesh softened. Drain on kitchen paper. When cool enough to handle break the bread into pieces adding to the mortar along with the garlic squeezed from it’s flesh and 2 Tblsp of liquid from the chickpeas. Pound until a rough paste is formed.
- Stir through the bread-garlic paste to the chickpeas, adjust seasoning and simmer for another minute or two. Serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.
♥ Pescatarian…♥ Protein…♥ Kidney Tonic…♥ Water Element…♥ Earth Element…♥ Spleen Qi deficiency