Baccala Salad (Insalata di Baccala)

Baccala Salad
Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 lb choice-grade skinless boneless salt cod, rinsed well
1 and 1/2 quarts water
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup small pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/4 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup chopped drained bottled roasted red peppers
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup small fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Put cod in a large bowl and cover with cold water by 2 inches.

Soak cod, chilled, changing water 3 times a day, up to 3 days (cooks’ note, below).

Drain and chill until ready to use.

Drain cod and transfer to a 5 to 6-quart pot with 1 and 1/2 quarts water.

Bring just to a simmer and remove from heat. (Cod will just flake; do not boil or it will become tough.)

Gently transfer cod with a slotted spoon to a platter to cool slightly.

Shred cod and stir together with celery, garlic, olives, roasted peppers, parsley, and basil.

Stir together lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and olive oil, then pour over salad, tossing to coat well.

Season with pepper and chill, covered, at least 1 and 1/2 hours for flavors to develop. Serves 6 (main course).

Notes: Brands of cod differ in their degree of saltiness. A less salty variety may need only 1 day of soaking, while another could require up to 3.

To test it, simply taste a small piece after 1 day; you want it to be pleasantly salty but not overwhelmingly so. Salad can be chilled up to 2 days.

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