21 November 2011

Chickpeas with saltfish, tomatoes, garlic and kale

Assemblages. They are the business. Not quite salads, stews or anything else, assemblages are the pragmatists' favourite - a type of mixed dish which can take everything from fridge skulking vegetables to the finest of treat produce. With something filling and carbohydrate based in the mix they constitute an entire, discrete meal. Beautiful.

This cracking dish is from a small River Cafe fish book and centres around three central earthy ingredients: saltfish, chickpeas and kale.

  • saltfish
  • chickpeas
  • kale
  • tomatoes
  • garlic, dried chilli, olive oil

The night before you cook put the chickpeas in a bowl of boiling water. They are so central to this dish that it's worth the bother of soaking your own. When the cooking has started in earnest put the chickpeas on to boil - they'll need about forty minutes. Put your saltfish through three boils of cold water and see how salty it is. It may need one more.

Chop loads of garlic and and slowly cook in plenty of olive oil with a handful of sweet cherry tomatoes. After ten minutes add the chilli to taste. When the saltfish is satisfactorily de-desalinated push the tomatoes to one side of the pan and briefly fry the fish in the flavoured oil. Meantime, cook your kale down in some water until tender; ready your chickpeas. Combine everything in something big and add a splash of sherry vinegar and another of olive oil. I also chucked in some nice, sharp rocket. Lashings of pepper also advisable.

A wonderful mix. In turn resistant and giving - taste sweet and salt, iron and pepper. One might easily make it vegetarian compatible by using some nice grilled halloumi instead of the fish. On a similar tip the St John cookbook has an assemblage of tomatoes, boiled potatoes, roast garlic, roast tomatoes, saltfish, chopped boiled egg and parsley which is also amazing and probably next on my list as I bought three packs of saltfish for a fiver.



  1. I love a bit of saltfish. This looks great; I imagine a poached egg on top would work well too.

  2. Yep, I think egg would go well here and add some glamour.