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    Monday, April 15, 2024

    Top toast with mackerel and lemony vegetables for a breezy meal

    Summer's coming, slow and sure as dripping honey. It makes me think of: pool days and sticky skin, lightning bugs and thunderstorms, cold watermelon and picnics. It makes me think of the easiest recipes that involve as little cooking as possible. These Mackerel Toasts fit that bill. You'll need only a few ingredients - most of them from your pantry and condiment collection - and a few minutes.

    Start by mixing together a bit of mayonnaise with a dab of prepared horseradish and add the zest of a lemon. Roll that lemon on your cutting board, to get its juices going, and then cut it in half.

    In a small bowl, combine a sliced Persian cucumber - no need to peel it - a small red radish, sliced, and a sliced shallot. The shallot is optional, but I like the pop of that garlicky flavor next to the zing of the horseradish mayonnaise. Squeeze the lemon over the vegetables to make them taste a little like pickles. Add a pinch of salt, if you'd like.

    Now, cut two hefty slices of bread off a crusty loaf. Ciabatta is good here, but I would toast it. A sourdough miche, dense and nutty, would be even better. Whole grain or white sandwich bread works just fine, too. Spread the lemony horseradish mayonnaise on the two slices. It will soak into the bread's minuscule crevices, turning it into a soft landing for the main event: a tin of mackerel. Smoked? Oil-packed? Water-packed? I like my mackerel smoky and oil-packed, but the choice is yours. You could also use any other kind of tinned fish, including tuna, salmon or trout.

    Once the fish is in place, shingle the lemony vegetables over them. They won't all stay put, and that's all right. This is finger food, meant to be a little messy. All that's left to do is add some parsley leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.

    This recipe serves one but is easily doubled or quadrupled. I like eating my Mackerel Toasts standing up at the counter near the sink, making sure every bite has a little bread, horseradish mayo, fish, crunchy vegetables and parsley. But this would also be a good picnic meal, just the thing to enjoy in spring's gentle warmth before the full heat of the summer sun hits.

    - - -

    Mackerel Toasts

    Total time: 10 minutes

    1 serving (makes 2 toasts)

    Popping open a can of mackerel might be the hardest thing about this easy meal for one. Spicy horseradish mayonnaise and crunchy, lemony vegetables keep it fresh. Feel free to mash the fish into the bread for a tidier sandwich, or just keep in mind that some of the toppings may slip off as you take a bite. Not into cucumbers or radishes? Feel free to substitute bell peppers, beets, zucchini or snap peas.


    1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise

    1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained if watery

    Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon

    1 small Persian cucumber, sliced

    1 small red radish, thinly sliced

    1 small shallot, thinly sliced (optional)

    Fine salt (optional)

    2 thick slices crusty bread, toasted, if desired

    1 (4-ounce) can water- or oil-packed mackerel

    A few leaves of fresh parsley

    Freshly cracked black pepper


    Step 1

    In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, horseradish and lemon zest.

    Step 2

    In another small bowl, combine the cucumber, radish, shallot, if using, and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt, if desired, and stir to combine.

    Step 3

    Lay the bread on a plate. Spread the horseradish mayonnaise on both slices. Pop open the can of mackerel and, using a fork, transfer the fish fillets to the bread, slightly smashing them into the bread, if desired. Top with the lemony vegetables, parsley and cracked black pepper, and serve.

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