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The Case for Canned Fish

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As a defiant response to Sad Desk Lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty. Each week, we'll be sharing our happiest desk lunches -- and we want to see yours, too.

Today: We know you have canned fish. Put it to good use, all week long. 

An assortment of canned fish

I'll admit that canned fish isn’t the most subtle of desk lunches. Unlike pickles or savory oatmeal, there’s no use being stealthy about, say, sardines -- because the minute you crack open a briny tin, your coworkers will know exactly what you’re up to. So why bother with canned fish at all? Two reasons: The first is because we know you have it. The second is because you can put it on everything. 

Let me explain. On some nights, when we feel like responsible adults, we plan ahead. We roast our chicken, we toss our salads, and -- weekday heroes that we are -- we have enough left over for lunch tomorrow. But this doesn’t happen as often as we pretend it does.

More: You deserve better than the deli down the street. Here's how to pack lunch in under five minutes.

Instead, on those mornings when you’re halfway out the door with mismatched socks and an empty lunch bag, don’t worry -- canned fish has your back. Here are some of our favorite ways to turn it into a respectable desk lunch

Tahini dressing and vegan rice bowl

Start with last night’s grains. If you have leftover quinoa, couscous, or rice, all you need is a tin of canned fish and a few scavenged vegetables to round out the heartiest of desk lunches. I’m especially partial to tuna and jasmine rice, the dynamic duo that fueled many an all-nighter in college. (No? Just me, then.)

Avocados with vinaigrette for lunch

You already love avocados vinaigrette. Fill the hole in its heart with a protein-rich spoonful of canned fish -- and don’t forget a few spoonfuls of your favorite homemade dressing

Provencal Tuna Melt Recipe with Canned Tuna

It’s been a long day, and you need a little comfort food. Tuna gets you. At the office, you’ll toast your bread like you would for cheese toast, and then spread it with a thin layer of canned fish, topped off with a blanket of cheese. Hello, tuna melt

Assortment of Bela Portuguese Sardines

If you’re lucky enough to unearth a tin of sardines, you know it’s going to be a good day. Flavorful all on their own, sardines ask only for a sleeve of crackers, a buttered baguette -- or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a few sheets of nori. Our friends at BELA Sardines top their seaweed-wrapped fish with wasabi peas and cranberries, but feel free to use whatever else you have in the cupboard. It’s a lunch both thrifty and filling -- the ultimate pantry meal.

Are you on team tuna or team sardine? Let us know in the comments!

Avocados vinaigrette photo by Marian Bull; all other photos by James Ransom

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Sardine, Seafood, Lunch, Back to School, Not Sad Desk Lunch