How To Transform Canned Beans And Tinned Fish Into A Sensational Salad

All canned foods are convenient, but beans would likely land at the top of the list of the most useful products — they can slash the time it takes to prep a meal in half, especially because beans can be eaten straight from the can without cooking. Also on that list would be tinned fish, which also requires nearly no preparation. The marriage of the two into a salad is a no-brainer for a satisfying, protein-packed meal.

A classic salad idea is oil-packed tuna and white beans. These ingredients are gently combined and often dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar, plus goodies like capers, greens, fresh herbs, and/or garlic. You can use this as a template for endless delicious salad ideas. There's no shortage of great beans to buy for this application, so choose your favorites. Just like tuna, sardines and mackerel pair well with white beans, but black beans or kidney beans also work well, with their mellow flavor and creaminess acting as the perfect backdrop to the fish's brininess and meaty texture.

If you want some subtly nutty flavor, don't miss out on mixing chickpeas and sardines. You can totally transform the flavor with different dressings, veggies, or even fruits like citrus. Try sriracha, soy sauce, and green onions with chickpeas or fava beans, or ginger, lime, jalapeños, and corn with black beans. Scoop up your protein-packed salad with crusty bread, pita chips, or crackers. 

Tips for making canned beans and tinned fish salad

Use a few extra methods to ensure that your salad turns out well. Since there are so few parts in these simple dishes, you'll want to use the highest quality ingredients. One of the most important tips is to look at the label on fish like sardines before buying it. For the best flavor, choose fish packed in oil, which is far more moist than the dry water-packed stuff. Additionally, reach for a product that's been sustainably caught. Not only is it better for the environment, but thanks to the lack of stress in wild-caught fish and their varied diets, they often have better flavor, too.

As for the beans, remember to rinse them well before use. As opposed to simply draining them, rinsing will get rid of some of the sodium on the beans, resulting in a uniform, less salty flavor. Even low-sodium canned beans might carry enough salt to throw off the flavor balance in your salad. Additionally, rinsing canned beans gets rid of the slimy coating you often find on them, thereby improving the texture of the dish. 

Finally, assemble your salad with a careful hand — gently fold the ingredients together to avoid mushing both the beans and fish. And if you like to meal prep, only keep the salad in your fridge for a day or to in order to keep the flavors fresh.