Tinned fish have gotten a revival as the perfect souvenir from anyone who spent their summer vacation eating boquerones in Barcelona or had a friend who went to Portugal (because of course they did). That oil-packed European tinned fish is trendy, but it can be hard to find and pricier than most of us might want to spend on any single canned food. That said, if you're sleeping on the canned fish options at your standard American grocery store, might we suggest broadening your horizons beyond chunk tuna in water?
No shade to Starkist—we love a classic tuna salad as much as you do, but the world of oil-packed canned fish is brimming with so much more rich, briny flavor to add to your cooking. Even the cheapest tin of anchovies in oil will add intense umami qualities that you can't get from many other foods, and having a few cans of sardines on the shelf guarantees a reliable source of protein even when the fridge is empty. Of course, we always keep some tuna on hand, too (and the slightly nicer tuna in oil, if we can get it).
If it isn't already part of your pantry, it's time to stock your shelves with tinned fish to indulge in its salty, oily, meaty goodness. Here are our favorite ways to use canned fish.
Anchovy, Little Gem, and Tomato Salad Recipe
You don't really need dressing on your salad if you've got the flavor-packed oil from a good can of anchovies, and sometimes we all need a good shortcut.
Pantry Pasta with Linguine and Anchovies Recipe
The phrase "pantry pasta" can call to mind images of Kraft mac and cheese, but if you stock your pantry right—like with a jar of capers and a tin of anchovies—it can also mean a pasta dish so good it's worth opening the bottle of wine that costs more than $5.
Grandma-Style Pizza Recipe
Just like pineapples on pizza, topping a slice with an anchovy is a divisive topic. Let some anchovies slowly melt into your homemade tomato sauce though, and nobody can argue with that.
Red Pepper Pintxo Recipe
Who said you had to go to Spain for good tapas? This simple pintxo of peppers and anchovies preserved in oil is as close as you can get at home in five minutes.
Weed-Infused Spicy Sardine Spaghetti Recipe
This weed-infused sardine spaghetti is one way to unwind from a rough week. With sardines, a white wine sauce, and noodles, it's just as comforting without it, in case edibles aren't part of your weeknight routine.
Spaghetti Alle Vongole Recipe
There's a lot to love about this creamy, buttery, tomatoey clam pasta, but maybe our favorite trick up chef Karen Akunowicz's sleeve? Finishing it with crispy fried breadcrumbs cooked in anchovy paste. You'll want to eat them alone with a spoon, TBH.
Radicchio and Roasted Beet Salad with Bagna Cauda Recipe
Bagna cauda is a hot dip from Italy made of olive oil, anchovies, and garlic that's typically served with raw vegetables. We like it with strongly flavored ones like radicchio and beets, but it's so good that you might even find yourself eating your less-loved veggies.
Caesar Broccoli Recipe
In case you didn't already know, anchovies are a big part of why Caesar salad is so freakin' good. Break free from the usual romaine and use the dressing to make the best broccoli dish ever.
Cabbage Caesar Salad Recipe
While we're already throwing tradition to the wind, you might as well put your Caesar dressing on whatever you've got. The giant head of cabbage you're not sure how to finish? Might as well Caesar it.
Sardine and Tomato Galette Recipe
Everything is better in a flaky, buttery galette, and sardines in tomato sauce are no exception. Add tomatoes and olives, and you've got a pizza-meets-pastry dish to convince sardine skeptics.
Pesto, Olive, and Artichoke Tuna Salad Recipe
There's no mayo or celery in this tuna salad—just intense Mediterranean-inspired flavors that'll have you rethinking your usual lunch routine.
Tuna Melt Casserole Recipe
Tuna melt and tuna noodle casserole both rank high in the canned tuna canon, which means this tuna melt casserole (basically a mash-up of the two) is god tier.
Canned Tuna and White Bean Salad Recipe
Canned tuna packed in water and plain white beans aren't the most flavorful foods ever. You'd barely know it though if you add a squeeze of lime and a dash of cilantro, just as we do in this quick pantry salad.
Fancy Tuna Melt Recipe
Ventresca tuna, the buttery meat that comes from the belly of the fish, is what makes this tuna melt so fancy, but the mix of pimento-stuffed olives, aged Cheddar, and cornichons is enough to make your usual canned tuna better too.
Fried Vegetables with Tonnato Sauce Recipe
Tonnato sauce is a masterclass in making the most of canned fish since it uses tuna and anchovy fillets. The result is a spicy, briny, and tart sauce that improves any vegetable you've got around.
Stuffed Mussels with Tuna Recipe
If a mussel shell being stuffed with, well, a mussel wasn't enough seafood for you, then cozze ripiene is exactly what you need. These mussels are topped with tuna, tomatoes, and breadcrumbs, because why not?
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