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Salt cod and spinach gratin

Australian Gourmet Traveller French recipe for salt cod and spinach gratin.

By Andy Harris
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 10 mins cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 6
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Salt cod and spinach gratin
You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


  • 1.5 kg salt cod, cut into pieces (see note)
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 300 ml olive oil
  • 260 ml milk
  • 1½ lemons, juice only
  • 1½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
  • 60 gm unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 kg English spinach (about 8 bunches), trimmed, blanched, refreshed and finely chopped
  • 65 gm dried coarse breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • 40 gm coarsely grated parmesan (½ cup)
  • To serve: lemon halves


  • 1
    Place salt cod in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 24 hours, changing water 3-4 times (see note). Drain, place cod in a colander and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large saucepan with garlic and bay leaves, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer over low heat until flesh flakes easily when touched (8-10 minutes). Cool in liquid and, when cool enough to handle (10-15 minutes), remove fish and garlic from liquid (discard bay leaves). Coarsely shred cod (discard bones and skin) using fingers. Finely chop garlic, add to salt cod and process in a food processor until coarsely chopped and well combined (2-3 minutes).
  • 2
    In separate saucepans, warm olive oil and milk over low heat. Add one-quarter of the olive oil to salt cod mixture and process to combine, then add remaining olive oil and milk in batches, processing until smooth and creamy. Add lemon juice, nutmeg and season to taste with freshly ground white pepper, process briefly to combine, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • 3
    Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, add onion and sauté until soft (4-5 minutes). Add spinach and cook over low heat, stirring, until warmed through (6-8 minutes), then season generously with freshly ground white pepper.
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly grease six 2-cup capacity ovenproof dishes. Divide half the salt cod mixture evenly, top with half the spinach mixture, then repeat with the remaining mixtures. Scatter breadcrumbs and parmesan over dishes and bake until golden (20-30 minutes). Serve warm with lemon halves.


You may need to soak the salt cod in cold water for longer than 24 hours, changing the water a few more times, depending on how heavily salted it is.
Drink Suggestion: Viognier. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Andy Harris