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Fish and Shellfish, Mains, Vegetables

Heirloom tomatoes stuffed with salt cod and potato puree

Heirloom tomatoes stuffed with salt cod and potato puree
Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

END-OF-SUMMER vegetables, multicolored and burnished by the slowing heat of an accomplished season, have transformed the market stalls and produce aisles into Renaissance still life paintings. But eventually, glorious heirloom tomatoes and lavender Chinese eggplants need to make the transition ... Read more

Total time: 45 minutes, plus overnight soaking | Serves 4

Salt cod and potato puree

  • 1/2 pound salt cod
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1 small russet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons roasted walnut oil, divided
  • 1/2 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Step 1Soak the cod overnight in cold water to cover, changing the water a few times.

Step 2Rinse the cod and cut it into three or four pieces. Place the cod in a large saucepan and cover it with fresh cold water. Add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf, onion, garlic and peppercorns. Heat it slowly until the first white foam appears at just under a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 3Using a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of cod to a plate and reserve the cooking liquid for the potatoes. Let the cod stand until cool enough to handle, then remove the bones and skin from the fish; flake the flesh and keep warm.

Step 4Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in the poaching liquid just until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry them in the saucepan over low heat. Immediately mash them until smooth, using a ricer or a masher. Beat in one tablespoon of the walnut oil, the beaten egg and the chopped garlic. Beat until smooth and keep warm.

Step 5Meanwhile, scald the milk in a small saucepan and heat the remaining walnut oil in a second saucepan.

Step 6Place the flaked cod and a little of the warm milk in a food processor. Pulse on and off once. Gradually add the warmed oil and milk alternately, pulsing without overworking the cod.

Step 7Scrape the fish into the potatoes. Season with pepper to taste and reserve.

Tomatoes and assembly

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup arugula, finely chopped
  • 1 recipe salt cod
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Step 1Heat a broiler. With a paring knife, hollow out the top half of the tomatoes. Tie a length of kitchen twine tightly around the tomatoes, finishing with a bow or knot.

Step 2Season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper and let them drain upside down on a paper towel.

Step 3When ready to serve, spoon 2 tablespoons of the chopped arugula into the hollowed tomatoes. Spoon the salt cod mixture on top of the arugula, creating a nice mound over the top of the tomatoes.

Step 4Grind a little black pepper over the top and place the stuffed tomatoes on a baking sheet under the broiler until the cod puree is golden and the tomatoes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Remove the string from the tomatoes. Put the stuffed tomatoes on a plate and sprinkle over chopped parsley.

Note: The salt cod and potato puree is adapted from a recipe by Paula Wolfert in "The Cooking of Southwest France." Depending on the quality of tomatoes, they may be hollowed out and seeded, or if they are really flavorful, beautiful tomatoes, you may want to only partially scoop them out.


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