What a big hit my Bacalao a la Italiana was during our Christmas-day luncheon. I learned how to make this from a high school classmate when I visited her in the suburbs of Milan, Italy, a couple of years ago. I recalled this recipe from my taste buds' memory.
RECIPE for BACALAO a la Italiana:
1 kg. of salted cod fish - soak overnight and rinse and change water three times, then cut up by half-inch increments
1/4 kg. of chick peas (garbanzos) soak overnight, then precook - boil for about 20 minutes or until it gets tender, but not mushy, drain and set aside
2 medium-size white onion - diced into half square inch chunks
3 large garlic cloves, pass through garlic press as you begin to cook or chop coarsely
3 c. of water
2 cans 140 g. of tomato paste or a large can of pureed or diced tomatoes
1/2 c. of red wine or any leftovers you may have
a dash of peperoncini or chili flakes
* Extra Virgin Olive Oil - add 1/2 c. when the bacalao is cooked and a bit cooled down
1. Prepare all ingredients - cutting up, pre-cooking
2. Preheat a deep pan on the stove top. Add a tablespoon of cooking oil. Saute onions and garlic.
3. Add the cut up fish, the tomato paste and the water, the wine, and sprinkle some peperoncini.
4. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes in medium-low heat.
5. Add pre-cooked chick peas and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off and set aside to cool down a bit.
* Add 1/2 c. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil before serving.
Serve with toasted baguette (I use whole wheat or the ones made with whole-grains) , sliced 1/2 inch thick, for dunking in the sauce; or you can spread the bacalao over it making it like a finger food.
* A NOTE ABOUT GARBANZOS: I have made chickpeas (garbanzos) a regular part of my diet because of the health benefits we get from eating them: a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, just like other beans; its high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising abruptly after a meal; it's a fat-free high quality protein food; an excellent source of the trace mineral, molybdenum, an integral component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for detoxifying sulfites.
"Sulfites" are a type of preservative commonly added to prepared foods, including delicatessen salads and salad bars. If you are sensitive to this substance, you may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation. If you have ever reacted to sulfites, it may be because you are depleted or do not have enough molybdenum stored in your body, sufficient enough to detoxify them.
You should have seen the reactions as we sat around the dinning table, when we were eating - sound effects: "Hmmmm...this is so good...so tasty...love this sauce...how did you make this?...it's quite easy..." Try it. Although it smelled somewhat fishy, it was not salty at all. I got rave reviews for this one!
By the way, the left overs, the following day, even tasted much better!