INSALATA DI BACCALA`

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This started life as Insalata di Stoccafisso in a small trattoria on a back street by the harbour in Messina, but as it’s tricky to lay hands on stoccafisso – usually haddock or cod that’s been wind-dried – in Gloucestershire, I use baccalà – salted cod. Occasionally I salt my own cod  (cover cod loin in salt for about a  week – very sophisticated), but usually I buy in a chunk when I come across it. The results are very much the same – a zappy, snappy, bright salad. Just right as a snack or to set along with similar style dishes for lunch.

For 4

200g salt cod

4 sticks celery + leaves

2 lemons

1 medium chilli

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

Extra virgin olive oil.

Soak the salt cod in cold water for at least 24 hours, changing the water from time to time. Put the soaked cod onto a sauce pan, add 1 tsp black pepper corns and a couple of bay leaves and cover with water. Bring to the boil and poach for about 10 minutes, until the cod is cooked and can be easily flaked. Allow to cool in the cooking water. When it’s cool enough to handle, break down into nuggets. Chop the celery and leaves into smallish bits. Ditto the olives. Chop the chilli finely Peel all skin and pith from the lemons. Carefully cut out the segments and slice into small pieces. Mix the whole lot together and douse with olive oil. (You can add chopped green and/or black olives , too, but I forgot to do so when making the last batch of this admirable summer refresher). Serve with toast or bread.

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