*This post is in collaboration with Ciao Gusto, but all content is my own and 100% honest as usual!*

I don't know about you but at this time of year I often need to break up the cold weather flavours of rich stews, roasts and decadent spices with a lighter, brighter meal. I usually tend to do this at lunch times with open faced sandwiches, salads or bruschetta style toasted bread topped with a mixture of zippy spreads, pickled or marinated veggies and more delicately flavoured proteins like smoked or tinned fish.

This recipe is just one of those lunchtime meals but it's really elegant enough to serve as a starter or even make in miniature for a lovely party food, as it pairs so well with a glass of bubbly or a nice vermouth and tonic. You could even do a selection of different variations swapping in different herbs and cheese and types of fish or cured meats - delish!

The most important thing here is to get good quality fillets of fish in oil, as the creamy ricotta spread is really a base to let the mackerel or sardines sing out. I used a brand called Delicius for this particular recipe, specifically their boneless mackerel fillets in organic extra virgin olive oil. They're a new brand to me but I'll definitely be heading their way when I next stock up the tinned fish section of my pantry. 

Conveniently Delicius is available at Ocado who I do our weekly shop with, as part of the fabulous Ciao Gusto store (click here to take a look) that features a treasure trove of great quality Italian food products from store cupboard staples like jams, pastas, flours, spices, coffee and herbal teas etc to wines and spirits, cheeses, charcuterie and much more. I cook a lot of Italian inspired dishes so it's really convenient for me to be able to just visit the Ciao Gusto shop tab and find all the bits that I need in one place and it come with my normal delivery each week. 

As well as the mackerel I've also tried the sardine fillets and jars of anchovies from Delicius and they've all been beautiful - completely different to your old school tinned fish that I ate on toast when I was growing up. The boneless fillets are so easy to use too with no faffing about removing bones and the fact that they sleep in their tins surrounded by organic extra virgin olive oil makes them extra plumptious and tasty - I could happily just eat them from the tin with a fork to be honest. FYI some of their tasty treats including those used in this post are going to be on offer in January so you'll be able to snag some at a discount, time to stock up the larder I think!

Creamy Ricotta and Mackerel Toasts
Makes 2 large and generously topped bruschetta

90g tin of mackerel fillets in olive oil
125g of ricotta cheese
small handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
2 fat sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped
half a lemon, zest and juice
two good sized pieces (each about 15cm long) of quality bread such as ciabatta
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
a drizzle of good quality white wine vinegar or balsamic

Toast your bread pieces until golden and set aside to cool.
Using a fork whip the ricotta cheese until it's fluffy, then mix in the basil, sun dried tomatoes, lemon zest and lemon juice, then spread generously over the toasted bread.
Top with the fillets of mackerel and then drizzle with a little olive oil and a small splash of a sweet vinegar like balsamic to counter the creaminess with a little tart sweetness. Finally season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve!

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*This post was sponsored. For more information head to my disclaimer page.