Spicy, garlicky, lemony, herby sardines on toast

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Some people find the idea of tinned oily fish a little off-putting, as if a tin of sardines is no better than glorified cat food and should be avoided. With respect, I disagree. Sardines, mackerel and anchovies are essential staples in any decent cook’s cupboard, and I’ve lost count of the times one of them has come to the rescue when I’ve been too tired to cook anything elaborate.

Buy the best tinned fish you can afford – supermarket own-brand ones are usually great, and for a treat the range from Spanish brand Ortiz is exceptional.

Ingredients

  • 1 long slice of sourdough bread or 2 smaller slices of regular-sized bread
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • olive oil or butter (optional)
  • 1 x 80–85 g tin of sardine piccanti (spicy sardines)
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 sprig of parsley, leaves finely chopped
  • grated zest and juice of ¼ unwaxed lemon
  • a few ripe tomatoes, sliced

Method

Toast the bread until crispy and golden. Rub the cut sides of the garlic clove vigorously all over the crusty bread while it’s still warm. I like to drizzle a little of the oil from the sardine tin over the bread but if you prefer, just use plain olive oil (or butter) instead.

Arrange the tomato slices over the bread, followed by the sardine fillets and herbs and squeeze the lemon juice on the herbs. Scatter with the lemon zest and eat while warm.

Variations

- If you’re ravenous with hunger then the flesh of a small, destoned avocado on the garlicky toast is a welcome addition.

- Add some leftover roasted lemony vegetables from to the sandwich if you wish.

- Other herbs to try include marjoram, chives, thyme, rosemary or basil, but basil can be a bit of a bully (depending on how robust a flavour the leaves have), so I prefer the oregano/parsley combo.