Let Smoked Trout (& Some Toast) Save Your Dinner

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.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

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.

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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).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Camille Warmington
    Camille Warmington
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    Stephanie Kendall
  • Marina
  • Susan W
    Susan W
  • Ileana Morales Valentine
    Ileana Morales Valentine
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.


Camille W. June 1, 2016
This was awesome! I drizzled bread with a bit of olive oil before toasting. Delicious!
Alexandra S. June 1, 2016
Yay! So happy to hear this, Camille!
Stephanie K. May 23, 2016
This sounds delicious! I am a huge fan of tinned sardines, and I'm trying to get the SO into it as well, for some healthy protein. I'll give this a try on him. Thanks for the recipe!
Alexandra S. May 23, 2016
Nice! Smoked trout is a good intro to the tinned-fish world :) Hope you and the SO like this!
Marina May 23, 2016
Alexandra, thank you! I made this last night. What a nice combination of flavors. It was so elegant. I would make this for a party for sure!
Alexandra S. May 23, 2016
Marina, I'm so happy to hear this! I love the idea of a toast party :)
Susan W. May 14, 2016
This was so delicious and quick to bring together. Easy to transport too. My daughter is visiting and staying in a hotel down the street. I packed it up and we sat in their oh so comfortable lobby and ate these with fresh fruits and drank champagne. So delightful. I did use both types of smoked fish, but I have to say the tinned Trader Joe's was every bit as good as the vacuum packed whole fillet and a smidgen of the price.
Alexandra S. May 14, 2016
I'm so happy to hear this, Susan! And your dinner sounds so lovely — champagne, toast, fruit ... what more do you need? Great to know about the TJ's trout vs. the other.
Susan W. May 13, 2016
I was at Trader Joe's and grabbed 3 cans. Then I stopped in at Zupans (local Shi Shi store) for fruit and saw their vacuum packed smoked trout. I had to grab it, but now I'm not sure which to use for dinner tonight. Sigh. The 1/2 lb weight threw me off. Did the original recipe use vacuum packaged trout?
Alexandra S. May 13, 2016
Hi Susan! I'll make a note in the recipe. I use two of those Trader Joe's tins (each can says: net weight = 3.9 oz cans | dr weight 2.7 oz). Sorry for the confusion!
Susan W. May 13, 2016
Thank you Alexandra. We're going to use both types of trout. 1/2 vacuum packed and one can. It will be fun to try them both.
Alexandra S. May 13, 2016
Nice! That's perfect.
Ileana M. May 13, 2016
I love fresh trout but have never tried canned smoked trout. These little toasts look great! I'll look for the cans next time I'm at Trader Joe's.
Alexandra S. May 13, 2016
Thanks, Ileana! I have to stock up at TJ's every time I am there because I can't get there as often as I like. They are so nice to have on hand. Hope you are well!