Tinned fish has long been winning at the harried dinner hour, offering an instant boost of protein and fat, transforming carb- and vegetable-heavy dishes into complete meals: Think linguine with sardines, cannellini beans with tuna, and Niçoise salad with salmon.
Its success, of course, presumes one thing: that you like it. No matter the treatment, no matter the amount of mayonnaise, there’s no masking its flavor, which for some is akin to cat food. But for those looking to incorporate more fish into their diet, it’s hard to beat canned fish, and for the open-minded, there might be one worth giving a try: smoked trout.
With its nice firm texture and a taste less fishy than sardines, it's more palatable straight from the tin than tuna or salmon. With lemon and a few crackers, it makes a simple snack or appetizer, and when it’s tossed into a salad and piled onto thick slices of toast, it becomes a meal.
This smoked trout and avocado salad comes from Chez Panisse Vegetables and, like many of the salads in the book, is dressed with shallots macerated in lemon juice and olive oil. Scallions and parsley offer color and brightness, and endive, often a nice match for avocado, provides a bitter counterpoint to an at-once crisp, creamy, and smoky salad.
While this meal requires nothing more than a little chopping, tossing, and toasting, care should be taken in its assembly. Because avocado will easily turn to mush if handled too aggressively, it’s important to use a large bowl, to dress the endive and trout first, and to fold in the avocado last, gently tossing everything together with your hands. To ensure a smoked trout dinner win, keep this in mind: Clean hands. Large bowl. Can’t lose.
Name your favorite type of tinned fish—and your favorite thing to make with it—in the comments below.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).