Unique Pairings: Conservas and Cheese

Unique Pairings: Conservas and Cheese

Ahoy, seafood and cheese lovers! 

Welcome aboard our journey into the wonderful world of conservas and tinned fish. Not only are these delectable treats a convenient, shelf-stable snack option, they're also a treasure trove of flavor and culinary possibilities. So, grab your can openers and let's dive into the briny deep of conservas, cheese pairings, and recipe ideas that will leave you reeling with delight! 

So, what are Conservas?

Conservas, also known as tinned fish, are a centuries-old tradition hailing from coastal regions around the world, particularly in Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Portugal. These piscine delights are carefully prepared and preserved in a can, often with flavorful oils, spices, and herbs. From sardines and anchovies to mackerel and octopus, conservas are a veritable smorgasbord of delicious, nutrient-rich, and sustainably-sourced seafood options.

This method of preserving food dates back centuries, to a time when people needed to store food for long periods of time without the use of refrigeration (similar to aged, hard cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano!). The process of canning, or sealing food in airtight containers, was developed in the early 19th century and quickly became popular for preserving all kinds of foods. 

A can of conservas isn't just a tasty snack either - it's also a goldmine of health benefits. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins, these little fishy wonders are swimmingly good for your heart, brain, and immune system. And did we mention they're environmentally friendly? Many tinned fish are harvested from abundant, fast-growing species, which makes them a sustainable and responsible choice for the planet!

Conservas, Cheese, and Wine Pairings:  

In terms of pairing tinned fish with cheese, this is a relatively new topic. Traditionally, tinned fish would have been served on its own, with bread or crackers as a simple accompaniment. However, in recent years, there has been a growing trend for pairing tinned fish with cheese.

We at Antonelli’s love pairing conservas with cheese (and, of course, wine!). We even have an entire tasting class dedicated to this glorious pairing - check out our Public Events Calendar  to see if there’s a Cheese & Conservas Class coming up! Here are some pairing suggestions to get you started though:

  • Sardines with Sauvignon Blanc and Manchego cheese: The bright, zesty flavors of the Sauvignon Blanc complement the oily, slightly salty flavor of the sardines, while the nutty flavor of Manchego cheese adds a complimenting touch.
  • Anchovies with Chardonnay and Feta cheese: The buttery, oak flavors of the Chardonnay complement the strong, umami flavor of the anchovies, while the tangy flavor of Feta cheese adds a unique contrast.
  • Tuna with Pinot Noir and Brie cheese: The light-bodied Pinot Noir pairs well with the delicate flavor of the tuna, while the creamy texture of Brie cheese adds a richness that balances out the dish.

Simple Conserva and Cheese Recipes: 

  • Octopus and Feta Flatbread: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Roll out store-bought (or homemade!) pizza dough or flatbread, then brush with olive oil and bake for 5-7 minutes, until slightly crispy. Top with thinly sliced octopus, crumbled feta, halved cherry tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the toppings are heated through. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley. 
  • Sardine and Manchego Tapas: Arrange sardines on toasted baguette slices, then top with a slice of Manchego cheese and a dollop of tomato jam. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  • Anchovy and Pecorino Romano Caesar Salad: Whip up a homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and grated Pecorino Romano. Toss with romaine lettuce, croutons, and more grated cheese, then top with a few extra anchovies for good measure. 

Antonelli’s Conservas and Cheese Tips:

  1. Get to Know Your Brands: The quality of conservas can vary widely, so it's important to choose brands that are reputable and use sustainably-sourced fish. Some of our shop-favorites include Ortiz, Patagonia, and La Brújula. You can always stop by the Antonelli’s Cheese Shop to test a few conservas - we’re open 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., daily, in Austin, Texas. 
  2. Don't Drain the Oil: Many conservas are packed in high-quality olive oil, which is not only delicious but also great for your heart. Use it to dress salads, drizzle on pasta, or even spread on bread for a tasty and nutritious treat.
  3. Store Unopened Cans in a Cool, Dry Place: To maximize the shelf life of your conservas, store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once opened, transfer any leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  4. Serve at Room Temperature: For the best flavor and texture, remove your conservas from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the oils and flavors to meld and develop, creating a more enjoyable experience for your taste buds.
  5. Get Creative with Your Pairings: While we've suggested some scrumptious cheese pairings, don't be afraid to experiment with other accompaniments. Conservas are versatile and can be enjoyed with crusty bread, crackers, pickles, and olives!

And there you have it, fellow seafood (and cheese) enthusiasts! The next time you're in the mood for a taste of the sea, remember to crack open a can of conservas and let your culinary creativity set sail. They’re a perfect addition to your next cheese and charcuterie board - read our How to Build a Perfect Charcuterie Board blog post for extra tips!

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