Codfish Pie with Spinach (Empadão de Bacalhau com Espinafres)


Among the 1001 ways to prepare codfish, baking it as a ‘pie’ dish is a favorite at our house. The children love it and that includes an eleven month old who eats uncountable spoons of the recipe presented here. Cod is considered a light fish with white and flaky flesh rich in high-quality protein and with relevant levels of vitamins A, D, E, B6 and B12 and important amounts of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. So, it is certainly a good choice for children, one just needs to be careful with the amount of sodium that might contain.


In the Portuguese culture, codfish is commonly bought dried and salted. When you buy it like this there are a few tips to consider: check if there is too much salt, dark spots on the surface or some moisture. If you buy a whole cod hold it by the tail and if it bends it means it’s not well dried. Of course these tips don’t apply to the codfish normally found in US stores, sold in bags originally from Canada – those are not sold whole nor well dried and salted; that cod will surely bend (actually the thin fillets normally are sold folded) and presents some moisture. If you are familiar with those bags of cod and by comparing it with the kind I’m using in these pictures you’ll see the difference. I have no knowledge of a superior kind of cod from Canada; if there is some I’d love to find out. I know there is a fish known as Alaskan Black Cod or Sablefish, which unfortunately I never had the pleasure of trying yet although I hear that is delicious, but that fish, despite the name, does not belong to the cod species and it seems is a group of fish confined to the North Pacific. But, of course, I’ll leave those taxonomic considerations to biologists because it’s lunch time and the table is set.


Conventionally, this dish has a potato purée base and can be prepared by layers, as with a potato purée layer, followed by a cod layer, some optional sauce, more purée and so on. On this one, and because I like to include different vegetables in all meals, I incorporated in the potato purée the cod and carrots and added a layer of sauté spinach and onions. This is great served with a crispy green salad and some black olives, but it is a complete nutritional meal by itself.


Codfish Pie with Spinach (Empadão de Bacalhau com Espinafres)
Serves 8
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
28 min
Total Time
58 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
28 min
Total Time
58 min
  1. 3 large salted dried codfish fillets, previously soaked (see Note below)
  2. 3 lbs potatoes
  3. 1 lb carrots
  4. 2 sweet onions
  5. 5 cloves of garlic
  6. 10 oz chopped spinach (frozen or fresh)
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  9. 1 tsp paprika
  10. 2 tsp herbes de Provence
  11. 1 bay leaf
  12. Parmesan and Gruyère cheese to grate on top
  13. 1 Tbsp olive oil to coat the baking dish
  1. Peel the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic.
  2. Cut the potatoes in quarters and put in a pan with enough water to cover it and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the carrots cut in half, 2 cloves of garlic and a bay leaf.
  4. Let it cook in medium heat for about 15 minutes until almost tender.
  5. Add the codfish pieces and let it cook for more 10 minutes.
  6. It shouldn’t need any added salt because the codfish will have enough to season the potatoes and carrots, but you can taste and add some if needed.
  7. In the meantime, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil in an iron skillet (or other skillet), slice the onions and sauté them for 20 minutes in medium-low heat with the remaining cloves of garlic, chopped.
  8. When the onions turn golden brown, add the chopped spinach and cook for more 5 to 10 minutes. Season with sea salt and herbes de Provence and set aside.
  9. Carefully remove the codfish pieces from the pan and remove all the skin and bones.
  10. Drain the potatoes and carrots, discarding the bay leaf.
  11. In a large bowl of a stand-mixer, add the codfish, potatoes and carrots, 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, paprika and mix with a paddle attachment until smooth.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.
  13. Coat a rectangular and deep baking dish (3 Qt. 9”x 13”) with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
  14. Spread half of the codfish/potatoes/carrots purée in the pan.
  15. Add the sautéed spinach and onions on top and pour the remaining purée, smoothing the top. Quickly whisk 2 eggs with a fork and spread on top of the purée.
  16. Grate Parmesan and Gruyère cheese enough to cover the top and bake for 20 minutes in the center rack.
  17. Broil for about 8 minutes until golden brown and remove from oven.
  18. Serve warm with black olives. It is also great at room temperature.
  1. The salted cod is previously soaked in a container with water with the skin side up for 48 hours in the fridge, changing the water 2 to 4 times. The time of soaking depends on the thickness of the pieces and the size of the container; this was the time used for the pieces of cod pictured above.
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