I’ve always maintained that I can do simple far better than I can do complicated and my easy #NotRecipe of White Bean Salad with Mackerel stands testament to that ideology.
In certain realms of the culinary world, oily fish is like that second cousin of yours that never stopped wearing blue eyeshadow – retro, but not in a good way. We all know about the benefits of good fats, omega 3 and sustainable food choices, but there is something decidedly unsexy about things in tins. Sardines, pilchards, herring, anchovies and mackerel have for too long been associated with student cooking or mid-month poverty.
Nevertheless, far from being a last resort when the pantry is empty, oily fish has recently enjoyed a resurgence and is being brought up from the depths by exciting flavour combinations. While not as chic as salmon nor endangered like bluefin tuna, Atlantic mackerel is just as satisfying and most definitely on SASSI’s green list, especially when hot-smoked, peppered and flaked from the bone. Add to that a selection of simple ingredients that I deem to be “food of the gods” – namely garlic, lemon and olive oil – and one has a store cupboard staple that is able to impress even the most snobbish of guests.
Ideal as a light lunch, my White Bean Salad with Mackerel is as appetising as it is economical, with a tin of mackerel fillets easily able to feed two to three along with toasted ciabatta and a handful of peppery greens. Cheap, sustainable and rich in Omega 3, oily fish such as mackerel are uncomplicated enough to transform the most effortless attempt into something really special. More a case of arrangement on a platter than doing any actual cooking, this is ultimately food served in the Mediterranean way – that is, made to share.
White Bean Salad with Mackerel
Prep time: 15 mins/ Cook time: 0 mins / Serves: 2
You will need:
- a tin of sustainably caught mackerel fillets in oil– I love the smoked ones
- a loaf of sliced ciabatta, lightly toasted (mine is from Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay)
- a tin of white beans – butter or borlotti
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
- the juice and zest of half a lemon
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and stalks discarded
- 20ml of extra virgin olive oil
- coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- Peppery greens like rocket, to serve (optional)
Rinse and drain the beans and place into a bowl. Add in the crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, the thyme leaves and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.
Open the tin of mackerel fillets and drain. Flake the fish into the white bean salad and gently toss to combine. Serve the salad with the lightly toasted ciabatta, a handful of peppery greens and a chilled bottle of full-bodied Chardonnay such as Weltevrede1912 Chardonnay Vintage 2016.