They’re so good for you and come in adorable packages—what’s not to love?

By Rebecca Firkser
April 05, 2019

When I used to think of tinned fish, all that came to mind was Christian Bale eating one can of tuna every day to lose a bunch of weight for his role in The Machinist. Now, thankfully, my tinned fish world is much larger. While I still love tuna packed in olive oil, I’ve grown partial to another option: the sardine. And no, you don’t actually need to own a can opener to get into the tin.

Packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients, sardines are as nutritious as they are tender and flavorful. Fresh sardines are available at many grocery stores, but I still prefer the long-lasting and easy-to-store tins, and not only because they are so charmingly designed. Canned versions are often flavored with lemon, tomato, and wine, making them a more dynamic snack. Of course, you don’t have to just pop open a tin and dive in with a fork. Here are a few ideas for eating sardines every dang day:

Watch: How to Make a Tuna Melt

A sardine tartine: Slice a few thick slices of country bread and toast it. Spread the breads with a layer of mayonnaise or garlic aioli, then arrange a few oil-packed sardines, sliced 6-minute eggs, and a good squeeze of lemon. Top with chopped parsley and chives, and a dash of smoked paprika or aleppo pepper. 

Sardines and potato salad with arugula is absolutely what you should bring to any upcoming barbecues or potlucks. You can use fresh sardines if you want, or go the easy route with the tinned ones you keep in the pantry. Waxy fingerling potatoes, peppery greens, lemon juice—what more does that oily fish want?

A sardine sandwich in the style of pan bagnat (a Provencal tuna sandwich): Rub two slices of toasted baguette with raw garlic, then lay on sliced and salted tomatoes and cucumbers, a mixture of chopped olives and capers, then a row of oil-packed sardines—in lemon, if possible (toss in some anchovies too if you have them), a handful of fresh basil or arugula, and a hefty splash of red wine vinegar.

Sardines in pasta is delightful, especially when you add fennel, like in this recipe for fennel-sardine spaghetti. You can use sardines in tomato sauce like the recipe calls for, or use sardines in oil and a can of crushed tomatoes. Add fresh basil, parsley, a bit of garlic, and a handful of toasted panko breadcrumbs tossed with lemon juice to bring the dish to life.

Nicoise salad but sardine: Swap sardines in for tuna in the classic salad. On a large platter, arrange sardines with cooked beluga lentils tossed with lemon juice, 7-minute eggs, cooked baby potatoes, blanched green beans, a handful of greens, and a simple shallot and red wine vinegar vinaigrette.

 

 

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