Lent is a time in Catholic countries of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Believer or not, it also means a few changes to diet in Andalucía with a reduction in meat heavy meals and a focus on vegetables, pulses and fish. A typical dish during this period is Potaje de Semana Santa, Holy Week Stew, which is typically made with chick peas (or a mix of chick peas and giant white beans) and salt cod. I was sure I had previously given you a recipe for this, but alas I have been remiss. Fortunately, Giovanna over at Blue Jellybeans, has done the honours, do check it out!
As we’re still in the UK, and the weather has turned icy again, it was time to reinterpret this classic dish using ingredients available locally to me here. We were pleased with the results and it’s definitely a dish that can be eaten any time of year, not just Lent.
The ingredient list is simple, but the slow cooking turns this into a beautifully flavoured dish.
Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course)
- 2 cups of dried butterbeans
- 1 head of garlic
- A bay leaf
- 1 large fillet of fresh cod (I used smoked but unsmoked would also be good) flaked into chunks
- 2 cups approx. of finely chopped fresh spinach or kale
- A pinch of saffron (or half a teaspoon of turmeric)
- 3 cloves (optional)
Start by soaking the beans in water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda overnight. The next day drain them, cover well with water, add all the ingredients except the fish and spinach and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for a couple of hours (or cook in a low heat in the oven for about 4 hous as I do) until the beans are really tender. Just before serving remove the garlic, bay leaf and cloves (if using), add the cod and spinach and cook on a medium heat. Stir a little to break up some of the beans and thicken the soup. Season with salt to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of fresh olive oil.
PS. I have jsut come across a company that supplies (in the UK) some Spanish ingredients. Here’s the link (they haven’t paid me for this) but have just ordered the ingredients for Fabada Asturiana from them, so am hoping they’ll be good.