Sardine, borlotti & celery salad

Sardine, borlotti & celery salad

By
From
Tuscany
Serves
6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

A simple combination of cooked cannellini beans, tinned tuna and onions is commonplace on the Tuscan table. We like to use tinned sardines as they are sustainable, economical and just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. Whichever bean you use – borlotti beans, cannellini or similar beans – they are all equally good. Use tinned or cook them from scratch. To make the salad more substantial, add a handful of boiled and peeled quail’s eggs.

When Giancarlo was growing up he rarely saw a fresh fish as he lived too far from the sea. Therefore, salted fish such as herrings or sardines, or jars of tuna in oil sold at the local market were a treat. He often tells our children that one supper time, as the youngest in the family, he was simply given the ‘smell’ of a canned and salted herring. His father wiped the fish onto a piece of bread and Giancarlo had to be happy with that while the adult members of the family shared the fish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1/4 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into half-moons
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 celery stalks, finely cut on the diagonal
1 small yellow (bell) pepper, halved, cored and seeds removed, and cut into thin strips
240g cooked and drained borlotti or cannellini beans, or use tinned
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh red chilli, finely chopped, to taste
or 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 x 120g tins sardines in olive oil, drained
small handful basil leaves and yellow young celery leaves, to garnish

Method

  1. Put the sliced onions in a bowl of cold water and leave to soak for around 10– 15 minutes. (This will make them less potent.) Drain well.
  2. Put the tomatoes, celery, pepper, beans, oregano and chilli in a large bowl, add the soaked and drained onions, and mix with a large spoon. Splash over the vinegar and 4 tablespoons of the oil, season with salt and pepper and stir again. Break the sardines into the salad. Gently stir to combine, without flaking the fish. Taste and add more seasoning or chilli as necessary. (At this point, before adding the herbs, the salad will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days in a container.)
  3. To serve, arrange the salad on a large plate. Tear over the basil and celery leaves, and drizzle over the remaining olive oil.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Caldesi
Tuscany
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