When the heat comes pressing down, I dream of cool, refreshing things to eat. Who wants to sweat over a hot plate of food come summer? Yet, a gal can’t live off of fruit and popsicles alone. For a great, hearty – while still refreshing – summer meal, I’m all about the Serenata de Bacalao! I mean, who knows best how to eat in the heat than those who live in it year round. This traditional Puerto Rican fare is both cool and nutritious, but best of all delicious!
1 lb salt cod
any assortment of available tubers, known as vianda: potatoes, yautia, batata (sweet potato), ñame (yam), malanga, yuca (casava), plantains, breadfruit – you can find these in any Latino grocery and in many regular grocery stores now. If not, check your Chinese grocery!
3 hard boiled eggs
2 red or yellow onions
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 cups of shredded lettuce (mix with cabbage for more nutrients!)
2 ripe avocados
1 tsp capers
1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt and pepper
First, desalt the cod by soaking in water for up to three days if possible (I often just rinse it over and over and cook it the same day), changing out the water several times a day if possible, and keeping it covered and refrigerated. Cut the cod into smaller pieces – about 1- to 2-inch squares – and boil in a pot of water for three to five minutes. Drain, rinse, and let cool.
Cut your tubers down into manageable sizes, so they’ll cook faster – about the size of a small fist. The tubers should all soften, but not fall apart, just enough so you can slice them into nice sized rounds. The rule of thumb is about 40 minutes for most of these, so you’ll want to wait and toss the potatoes in last since they cook faster. Just test them with a fork as you pull them out. If the fork goes in easily, you can take them out and let them cool.
Cut up all veggies, tubers, and eggs in rounds – just because it’s prettier this way. Ok, in truth, you can cut them however you prefer. I mean, if you’re a wedge kind of person, then hey, go for it.
Lay down the lettuce and/or cabbage in a big glass bowl or serving dish, arrange the chilled tubers and eggs over this, then the veggies, crumble the cod over the top in flaky chunks, sprinkle the capers over the pile, drizzle with oil and vinegar to taste, and season the whole thing with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
There you have it. Mmmmmm.
(confession: I sometimes add artichoke hearts and/or olives and even a little cilantro on top.)