I have a thing for tinned fishes — tuna, sardines, anchovies, smoked herring, etc. — love ’em all.
I don’t typically endorse specific products. But once in a while,when I find something that really stands out, I like to give a little shout out.
Canned Bonito del Norte tuna from the fourth-generation Ortiz family is a favorite of mine. Ortiz’s fish are all line-caught (a sustainable fishing practice; not-netted, which means they don’t catch other fish and sea life in the process ), hand filleted at sea, and quickly tinned in good quality extra virgin olive oil. A bit of a splurge as far as canned fish goes, but money decidedly well spent.
Another favorite tuna is from Bela (you might be familiar with their delicious Portuguese sardines). They make a jarred skip jack tuna (a smaller species of tuna) in organic extra-virgin olive oil with (and without) piri piri chilies (hot little African bird’s eye chilies). Their tuna is also line-and-pole caught. It’s also a bit of a splurge, but it’s really good quality and fantastic tasting tuna. These are not your typical canned tuna.
If you can’t find either one of these brand, substitute with the best quality canned tuna you can find.
This is a simple little salad that I like to throw together using canned tuna. Mince up a substantial amount of garlic, at least 5 to 6 cloves. This may sound like a lot of garlic, but I let it simmer in olive oil, under very low heat, along with lots of chopped parsley, capers, and smoked paprika, until the garlic gets nice and tender and sweet and loses its sharp bite. Then, I toss the warm dressing with cooked white beans and flaked tuna, along with roasted fennel, and finish it with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and capers. It’s something you can whip up quickly (just cook your beans in advance).
Definitely not your ordinary tuna salad. The capers contribute a really nice salty, briny component. Roasting the fennel brings out its inherent sweetness and licorice undertones. A bit of hot smoked paprika, for a tinge of smokiness, lots of freshly chopped parsley (adds a nice herbaceous note), and a refreshing squeeze of citrus (lemon) to tie it all together — all and all, a kicked up version of your everyday tuna salad.
I do a similar rendition with canned sardines and linguine (in lieu of the white beans) with the same dressing. Quite delish…for my fellow sardine lovers out there.
The dressing = extra-virgin olive oil, a good amount of garlic, parsley, capers, hot smoked paprika, and salt and pepper.
Tuna, White Beans, and Roasted Fennel
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large fennel bulb, green tops removed, ~1/3 inch slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup loosely packed chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon capers, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1 cup cooked white beans (from dried or canned)
6 ounces canned tuna, drained and flaked
Squeeze of lemon
Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the fennel lightly in olive oil, about 1 tablespoon. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, flip slices, rotate the tray, and roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until the the fennel is tender and lightly browned.
In a small skillet or pot, add 5 tablespoons of olive oil, the minced garlic, chopped parsley, capers, smoked paprika, a pinch of salt, and few grinds of black pepper, and simmer over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very tender (watch closely, making sure garlic does not brown). Mash some of the capers with the back of a wooden spoon. After 4 to 5 minutes, taste the garlic, it should be tender and sweet. Remove from the heat.
Gently toss the roasted fennel, cooked white beans, and flaked tuna together. Top with the garlic-parsley-caper mixture. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper. Finish with a squeeze of lemon. Garnish with capers and chopped parsley.