One of the most delicious and satisfying antipasti in the Italian repertoire is also one of the simplest: tonno e fagioli, or tuna and beans. Well, the other day I was rummaging through my pantry, not really feeling like cooking—yes, it happens even to me sometimes—and found a can of ceci (chickpeas) and a can of sardines packed in olive oil. And the thought occurred to me: would these go together as well? I tried it and found it wonderfully satisfying.
You make this simple salad in the same way you make tonno e fagioli: combine a can of sardine fillets and a can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained) in a large bowl, then add some chopped red onion and chopped parsley, a generous pour of fruity olive oil and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper and mix together well. Taste, adjust the seasoning if need be, and serve, over a bed of greens if you like.
To my taste, the result was just as delicious as the classic antipasto—if anything, it’s even more sumptuous. It exemplifies how taking a tried-and-true idea and making a few tweaks can produce something familiar, yet new. It’s the kind of creativity that like best.
Insalata di sardine e ceci makes a great antipasto or, with some crusty bread, a light lunch or supper.