Bacalao con Tomate: An Easy and Delicious Weeknight Dinner in 40 Minutes!

Bacalao con Tomate: An Easy and Delicious Weeknight Dinner in 40 Minutes!

Today, we embark on a culinary adventure to explore one of Spain’s most beloved dishes – Bacalao con Tomate, a symphony of flavors that sings to the soul. Close your eyes and imagine yourself transported to a bustling market in the heart of Spain. The air hums with lively chatter, vibrant colors dance before your eyes, and the aroma of fresh ingredients fill your senses. This is the essence of Spanish cuisine, a celebration of simplicity and the magic that unfolds when fresh, high-quality ingredients come together.

A Story Steeped in History

Our journey begins with the humble cod, a fish that has played a pivotal role in many cultures for centuries. In Spain, it’s known as “bacalao,” a name rich with history. Long before refrigeration, the resourceful Spaniards developed a method of preserving cod through salting and drying. This process, essential for long sea voyages, ensured a reliable source of protein for explorers and coastal communities.

The arrival of the tomato from the New World in the 16th century marked a turning point. This vibrant fruit, initially considered poisonous by some, eventually found its way into Spanish kitchens, adding a new dimension to their culinary repertoire. The sweet and tangy notes of the tomato beautifully balanced the salty richness of the bacalao, sparking the creation of Bacalao con Tomate. This simple yet profound dish became a testament to Spanish ingenuity and their ability to transform basic ingredients into a masterpiece.

The Art of Cooking Bacalao con Tomate

Preparing bacalao is an art form that requires both patience and meticulous attention. The key lies in achieving the perfect texture. Overcooking transforms the delicate cod into a tough, rubbery mass while undercooking leaves it raw and unappetizing. Mastering this delicate dance is what separates a good bacalao dish from a truly exceptional one.

The traditional method involves soaking the salted cod for 24-48 hours and changing the water regularly to remove excess salt. Once desalted, the cod is often seared quickly in hot olive oil to create a beautiful caramelized crust. This technique seals in the juices and adds a delightful textural contrast to the tender flakes of cooked fish.

The Enchantment of Homemade Tomato Sauce

No Bacalao con Tomate is complete without a luscious, homemade tomato sauce. This vibrant sauce forms the heart of the dish, enveloping the cod in a warm embrace of flavor. The secret lies in selecting the freshest, ripest tomatoes available. Imagine the essence of summer captured in these plump, juicy gems.

Slowly simmered with aromatic garlic, onions, and a touch of Spanish paprika, the tomatoes transform into a thick, flavorful sauce. The natural sweetness of the tomatoes is balanced with a hint of acidity, creating a perfect harmony that complements the salty bacalao. Some variations may include white wine for a touch of sharpness or a splash of sherry vinegar for a deeper complexity.

A Canvas for Creativity

While the traditional Bacalao con Tomate is a masterpiece in its simplicity, it also serves as a canvas for culinary exploration. Some chefs like to add a touch of chopped bell peppers for a vibrant pop of color and a delightful crunch. Others might incorporate olives, capers, or zucchini for a more complex flavor profile. Feel free to experiment with your favorite ingredients and personalize this dish to suit your palate.

Tips for an Elevated Bacalao con Tomate Experience

  • Embrace Freshness: As with most Spanish dishes, the quality of the ingredients is paramount. Use the freshest, most flavorful cod and tomatoes you can find. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients will truly elevate your dish.
  • The Power of Patience: Don’t rush the simmering process of the tomato sauce. Allow it to simmer gently, letting the flavors develop and meld together for a vibrant and complex result.
  • The Perfect Pairing: Crusty bread is an essential accompaniment to Bacalao con Tomate. It serves two important purposes: firstly, it provides the perfect vessel for scooping up every drop of the delectable sauce, and secondly, its mild flavor allows the vibrant flavors of the cod and tomato to shine through.
  • A Touch of Green: A sprinkle of fresh parsley or chopped chives at the end adds a touch of vibrancy and freshness to the dish.

A Celebration Beyond the Plate

Bacalao con Tomate is more than just a delicious meal; it’s a celebration of Spanish culinary heritage. It embodies the resourcefulness of the Spanish people, their ability to transform simple ingredients into culinary masterpieces, and their deep appreciation for fresh, seasonal flavors. So, embark on this delightful journey with Bacalao con Tomate next time you crave a taste of Spain. Gather your loved ones, raise a toast to tradition, and savor the symphony of flavors that unfold on your plate.

Bacalao con Tomate

Bacalao con tomate: An Easy and Delicius Weeknight Dinner in 40 minutes!

Bacalao con Tomate is a traditional Spanish dish that beautifully combines the flavors of the sea and the earth. The star of the dish is cod, a fish known for its flaky texture and mild flavor. The cod is cooked until it’s just right – not too raw, not too rubbery. The homemade tomato sauce, made from fresh, ripe tomatoes simmered with garlic, onions, and herbs, adds a tangy, savory dimension to the dish. Here's a recipe for it:
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Desalting time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4


  • 4 Cod fillets (fresh or desalted)
  • 1 Medium onion, diced
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 Can crushed tomatoes (14.5-ounce)
  • ¼ tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Sugar (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flour for dredging (optional)


  • Desalt the cod if using dried salt cod. Submerge the cod in a large bowl of cold water in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
  • If using the green bell pepper, add it to the pan and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until softened.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, cumin, and sugar (if using) to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly.
  • While the sauce is simmering, dredge the cod fillets in flour (optional) for a thicker texture. Heat additional olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Sear the cod fillets for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through.
  • Add the cooked cod fillets to the tomato sauce. Spoon the sauce over the cod and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite sides, such as rice, potatoes, or crusty bread.


Here are some tips:
  • You can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. Peel, seed, and dice the tomatoes before adding them to the pan.
  • If you don’t have cod, you can substitute another white fish, such as halibut or haddock.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce for a touch of spice.
Keyword fish

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