Tinned fish recipes, three ways – The Denver Post

I’m an avid home cook, but preparing three meals a day, as many of us have been doing during lockdown, can be taxing, to say the least. Food shopping becomes an ordeal, rather than a pleasure, and the mere thought of planning ahead may seem too much.

When I’m at a loss, wondering what to cook that is appealing and relatively easy, I scan the nonperishable items in my pantry and take a glance at the fridge and freezer. Often, I come across some forgotten treasure, making a trip to the store unnecessary.

As I rifled through the canned goods assortment recently, it occurred to me that a fish dinner was in the cards. It would not require a fishing pole or a visit to the fishmonger — just a can opener and a few other staple ingredients.

Seafood from a can doesn’t have to be survival fare: 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 Ventresca tuna, and a joy to find them lurking in the cupboard.

Among my bounty was a tin of anchovies, a jar of tuna fillets in oil and a couple of cans of baby clams. I also found a jar of Italian sun-dried tomatoes and a can of Spanish piquillo peppers. With a box of spaghetti, a bit of bacon and a bag of frozen peas, a stellar menu was coming together.

For a mouthwatering snack, there would be crostini, the endlessly variable Italian standby. This version would be simplicity itself: thin slices of toasted day-old baguette or ciabatta, rubbed with garlic, smeared with a dab of chopped sun-dried tomato and topped with a bit of anchovy.

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 or a slice of sheep’s milk cheese. But a clear favorite for many is piquillos with a filling of seasoned, dressed tuna. They would be my first course.

Finally, for a main, I made a garlicky basil-parsley purée to toss with the clams and spaghetti, and kicked up the flavor with green chile, bacon and peas. The overall effect was very bright and summery.

Of course, you could serve any of these dishes by themselves. Crostini are welcome any time drinks are served. The stuffed peppers could be served as a light lunch, and a big plate of pasta can certainly suffice for a whole meal. But having them together in one festive menu gave us time to linger at the table, enjoying companionship and discussing the complex challenges we face at this moment in time.

Recipe: Crostini With Sun-Dried Tomato and Anchovy

If you have sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies on hand, turn to these little toasts, which are simple to assemble. The intense combination of flavors, both sweet and salty, creates an ideal savory bite. This particular recipe makes eight crostini, enough for four polite diners to have two each before dinner. Scale up if your crowd is a bit more ravenous.

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes