For a vivid take on lunchtime tuna salad, use oil-rich sardines, and skip the mayonnaise. Emulsifying the deeply seasoned oil from the sardine tin with lemon juice and mustard makes the salad creamy like mayonnaise does, but with flavors that are more intense and pronounced. Add any of the sharp, crunchy, fresh pops you like in your tuna or whitefish salad, such as capers, cornichons, pickled peppers or herbs, and eat this sardine salad over greens, on a bagel or English muffin, or between two slices of toast.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2tablespoons finely chopped red onion or shallot (about 1/4 small red onion or 1/2 small shallot)
- 1teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon), plus more as needed
- Kosher salt
- 2tins sardines packed in olive oil (about 4 ounces each)
- 1tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1large celery stalk, finely chopped
- Black pepper
- 2tablespoons capers or chopped pepperoncini peppers or cornichons (optional)
- ¼cup dill or parsley leaves and tender stems (optional), chopped
Step 1In a medium bowl, stir together the red onion, lemon zest, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Let sit about 5 minutes to mellow the onion’s sting.
Step 2Add the sardines and their oil, along with the mustard. Use a fork to mash the sardines and vigorously stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the celery, a few grinds of pepper and capers and/or herbs, if using. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and lemon juice. (Sardine salad will keep, refrigerated, for 3 days.)