The Case for Sardines
Oh, believe me, I know what you’re thinking. Even the very word seems a little unappetizing. Sar-deeeens. Poor guys, they just don’t have the best PR in the world (or, as I gather, on this side of the pond), and it’s a shame, really. Because if you can get past your initial feelings, you might find that this inexpensive fish — high in protein, iron, calcium and all important omega-3 fatty acids — rather suits you. Or you may be like my friend who, when asked to join me at home for a sardine sandwich after an exceedingly pleasant morning spent writing side-by-side in a coffee shop, could not run away quite fast enough muttering something about ravioli in her freezer. I suppose they’re not for everyone, but all I’m asking is that you try. Where would you be if you had listened to the prevailing sentiments on liver or brussels sprouts? SOL, is where.
I used to splurge on a $9 sandwich that made me feel rather posh in the middle of the workday: marinated anchovies, soft-boiled egg, frisée and country bread. (I belong to the club, by the way, that likes just about anything topped with frisée and an egg). When I saw a recipe for this sardine sandwich in a recent issue of O, I thought it might be able to stand in for that beloved midtown lunch now that I am a work-at-home kind of gal. (Which really, presents a whole slew of problems that we should discuss at a later date, namely, what do you wear that makes you feel 1) not like a schlump in her pajamas at noon but 2) not like an idiot wearing a pencil skirt and blazer in her living room. I have resorted to looking at mommy blogs for guidance on this front, but am more than open to your expertise. End of digression.)
This sandwich was everything I wanted it to be: hearty, healthy, and full of flavor. The exact kind of lunch you want to have when you’ll be too busy to stop for a snack at 4pm; this is the sandwich that sees you straight through to dinner. I also surprised myself at how un-fishy I thought the sardines were. If you can handle canned tuna, you can certainly handle this.
And, last but not least, I was able to make good on my promise to Dayna and investigate some other recipes using sardines. Here are six elegant-sounding recipes that star our beleaguered fish friend:
- Spaghetti with Sardines, Dill and Fried Capers
- Sardine and Watercress Salad with Shredded Potato Cakes
- Sardine Paté
- Potato Salad with Tomatoes and Capers (and Sardines)
- Sicilian Style Pasta with Sardines
- Mixed Greens with Marinated Sardines
adapted from O Magazine
1 tin (3.75 ounces each) boneless, skinless sardines packed in olive oil
1 tablespoon canola oil mayonnaise , or more to taste
2 tablespoons drained and finely chopped cornichons
4 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced
lettuce (frisée, if you’re so lucky)
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
Remove sardines from tin, draining oil. Transfer to a small bowl, and combine with mayonnaise and cornichons. Lay out 2 slices of bread. Top each with avocado, sardine mixture, lettuce, and egg (if using). Salt and pepper to taste; finish each sandwich with a slice of bread.