Merluzzo al modo mio – Tagine di merluzzo con pepperoni, pomodori, capperi, e pure di sedano



I bought a tagine clay pot and wanted to try cooking salty cod with it, I figured it would enable all the flavors to infuse together and make a flavorful dish. The salty cod just needs to be placed in a container with cold water and left it soaking overnight, or about 48 hours, changing water 3 or 4 times.It has been preserved in salt therefore has absorbed a lot of it, and needs to be “desalted”.

The biggest eaters of salty cod in Europe are Portugal, Spain, Italy and Southern France but each country has very different ways of cooking it. In France we make “accras de morue” or “brandade de morue” where cod is shredded and eaten as some type of puree, or made it into some little fried balls. In Italy, my mom used to bake it with tomatoes and peppers…and that’s somehow the way I wanted to go.

I haven’t had the chance to see salty cod in many restaurant in the Bay Area, maybe once or twice in a Spanish restaurant but that’s it. So my theory is if you really want to eat something, just learn how to make it.

Also I hadn’t had celeri root for a long time, last time was at my parents, my mom cooked it and sliced it served with a vinaigrette, I wanted to make a purée out of it, it’s so delicious and would blend well with the red peppers sweetness.

Ingredients For 4 people

  • 1 1/2 lbs salty cod
  • 2 yellow onions, cut crosswise
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • hot chili pepper powder
  • 1 tbs capers
  • 2 tbs kalamata olives, crushed
  • 3 tbs olive oil

For the celeri purée

  • 1 head of celeri root (celeri rabe)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


The day before soak cod in cold water, changing the water a couple of times.

In your tagine, add 2 tbs olive oil, and brown the onions, then add 3 tbs garlic crushed. Add peppers cut lengthwise in small strips, add tomates cut in quarters (removing the seeds), add chili powder, capers, salt and pepper. Place cod on top of vegetables. Add crushed olives with the remaining garlic crushed as well, sprinkle one tbs olive oil. Cover and place in the oven at 400F for about one hour.

For the celeri purée, peel the celeri root, and cut in pieces about 2 inches long. Steam for about 30 min. Remove the celeri, mash with a potato masher, making a very smooth mixture. Add milk, salt and pepper and heat in a pot, stirring until the milk got evaporated. Add olive oil, salt and pepper.

When cod is cooked, shred it in small pieces, place on top of vegetables, serve with purée, and juice of vegetables.