Tin can Alley

A casa rosada signature dish, piquillo pepper tapa

with almond and anchovy

Quick: What ingredient is delicious, sustainable, easy to store, and adds protein and healthy fats to any dish? Canned fish of course. Tuna, Anchovies, mussels, salmon, mackerel, sardines, crab, cockles and herrings. Tins, packets and short ingredient lists have become our best friends of late – as has ever-resourceful cooking. It’s amazing what you can do with a tin of fish. It’s also amazing what it can´t do and what it can do to you; boasting heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and plenty of protein, tinned fish is certainly good for you. It’s also incredibly kind on your wallet, too. Here in Portugal you can get a good quality can of fish with good nutritional values for under um euro a pop..Just be sure to check the nutritional values on the can before you take it home, in particular checking out the salt content. Having stocked up your larder you will soon realise the benefits of having a capsule-wardrobe style cupboard of cheap, familiar tinned items that can be tweaked every week to create an interesting, seasonal menu. A tin of food is a magical thing. Cheap,long-lasting, and capable of transforming into a whole world of dishes. Whether it was too cold for fresh produce, or the furloughed budget made outlaying on expensive ingredients out of the question, as we near the
end of another lockdown we have relied on tinned food to keep us going.
And the best thing about a tin of food? It can be very versatile. So versatile, in fact, it
inspires a myriad of recipe books on the subject, You might fancy a come to bed parmigiana from the Uk´s queen of thrift Jack Monroe  or you might opt for Bart van Olphen elevating canned tuna to the heights of deliciousness. Their books  focus on multiple different tins of ingredients: green lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk, anchovies,  butter beans, sweetcorn, chickpeas, cherries and condensed milk. The results are simple, delicious and budget friendly recipes to break us out this tiresome pandemic. Tinned fish is commonly overlooked and not given enough credit – it’s delicious, sustainable and just as good as fresh! It can be adapted to suit simple soups, sauces , to sandwiches, salads and wholesome meals.
Scrumptious recipes for tuna, mackerel, herring, salmon and more—so tasty, you won't

believe it's from a can! Anchovy and piquillo pepper tapa, herring smorrebrod, tuna-stuffed piqillo peppers, bottled clam pasta, tuna burger. Eat them separately, or, serve
them up as a mezze or tapas selection.
When I’m at a loss, wondering what to cook that is appealing and relatively easy, I scan
the non-perishable items in my pantry and take a glance at the fridge and freezer. Often,
I come across some forgotten treasure, heavenly sent to make a trip to the shops redundant.
As I rifled through the canned goods assortment recently, it came to me in a flash.
A canned fish themed TV dinner. It would not require me leaving the house, acquiring a fishing rod ( you may well chuckle but the lengths some people have gone to in Lockdown!!!) or even a visit to the fishmarket — just a can opener and a few other staple ingredients.

Seafood from a can doesn’t have to be just survival fare as heralded of late. Superior preserved products are a delicacy, if your budget allows. It’s worth the investment to pay a little more for high-quality anchovies and Ortiz Ventresca tuna, and even more of a treat should you find them lurking in the cupboard. Among my bounty was a tin of anchovies, a jar of tuna fillets in oil and some bottled baby clams. I also found a jar of
my favourite Spanish piquillo peppers. With a baguette, a couple of burger buns some potatoes , spaghetti, smoked almonds and a bit of home baking a stellar menu was coming together. To make it all would have been too much but a carefully selected few made up a balanced spread.
For starters, a mouthwatering snack, there could be an anchovy tapas, the endlessly variable Spanish standby, with a glass of sherry of course
This version, simplicity itself, is a casa rosada signature dish: thin slices of toasted day-old baguette, rubbed with garlic, smeared with a dollop of pan fried marcona almonds and piquillo peppers and finished with with a carefully placed anchovy fillet.
I was so happy to find the piquillo peppers, bright red, roasted and peeled, ready to stuff. Every tapas bar in Spain serves them, sometimes with a filling of creamy salt cod (brandade to the francophiles ) or a slice of soft cheese. But my clear favourite  is piquillos with a filling of tuna, parsley and buttery mashed potato. They could be tapas or the starter of a more sumptuous repast.

Finally, for a main, I had a fish burger in mind but with the same amount of tuna but made up  as mini burgers this could be another tapas item, see where i´m going here?
Of course, you could also serve any of these dishes by themselves. Pintxos and crostinis as far as I am concerned are welcome any time drinks are in the offing. The stuffed peppers or the smorrebrod could be served as a light lunch, and a big old burger is a meal in itself, as too a bowl of pasta can certainly suffice for a whole meal. But having them together in one composed menu gives you time to linger at the table, enjoying companionship and discussing the complex challenges we face at this moment in time.

Cook the garlic, shallots, peppers, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil on the stove over medium-low heatuntil the garlic and shallot are softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
Grind the almonds in a mini food processor. After pulsing once or twice, add the remaining three tablespoons olive oil and process until the almonds are creamy.
Stir together the almonds and cooked pepper mixture in a serving bowl. If the dip is too thick for you, add a bit more olive oil. I added one or two more tablespoons of oil and one more tablespoon of vinegar to get a slightly thinner consistency.
Serve spread thickly on baguette slices topped with marinated anchovies
Piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna, onions and mashed potatoserves 6 as a starter or 4 as a main course 1 tin of artesan piquillo peppers ( Navarrico or Bujanda )750 g floury potatoes, King Edwards or Maris Piper peeled and boiled (approx. 4 medium potatoes)1 tin of Ortiz tuna2 Spanish onions sliced into thin ringsa very thick slice of butter ( about 75g )a few large sprigs of thyme Salt and pepper Extra butter for the mashed potato and for greasing the oven dish  Melt the butter in a heavy based pan. Add the onions with a sprinkling of salt and cook slowly over a low heat.It will take 30 minutes or more for them to colour, though they should not brown. Meanwhile boil the potatoes, drain them and mash them adding the extra butter and then fold in the cooked onions.Check the seasoning and allow the mix to cool slightly.With a small spoon, carefully spoon the potato mixture into the peppers, pushing it gently right down to the tip of the pepper. Do not overfill as the peppers will split. Grease an ovenproof dish and lay the peppers in it side by side. Heat in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. Serve with a side salad of capers, finely diced tomatoes and parsley.


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