Ever since I became a humaneitarian, fish has become a constant presence on my plate. I have always loved the flavor, and it’s no secret that fish is awesome for your body: swapping fish for red meat just twice a week can reduce your chances of getting heart disease, lower blood pressure, increase mental function, and improve your skin and hair (maybe that’s why mine’s been growing so fast!).
Salmon is one of my go-to fishes, shrimp is one of my good-day ‘splurges’ because even though it’s more expensive, it’s extremely low in calories and fat (and very tasty), and frozen haddock or pollock is always in our freezer with tuna in the cupboard. Our cats Athena and Artemis are huge fans of tuna, as well; they come running when they hear me open a can. Fortunately, they’re not as fond of pickled herring as Dave and me, though—more for us!
But there’s another fish that’s always in our cupboard, one most likely to produce ‘ewwws’ from a majority of the population: sardines. I wish more people would give sardines a chance, because they are a nutritional powerhouse in the food world.
Relatively low in calories, they are full of protein and those omega-3 fatty acids you always hear about. Most people hear ‘fatty acids’ and think “horrible for you” but the opposite is true in this case. Also, sardines are low on the oceanic food chain with low amounts of mercury–so even if you’re pregnant and have to skip the sushi, you can have your fish….and eat it too!
Some other reasons to eat sardines: they are inexpensive, sustainably fished, and for fish lovers out there: they actually taste like fish. Unlike commercially packaged fish sticks or pre-seasoned fish determined to cloud your tastebuds with salt.
Some good ways to eat sardines: mashed with avocado on toast, straight out of the can as part of a European dinner (usually the kind packed in mustard), and in a sardine grilled cheese sandwich. This may be the safest way to try it if you don’t think you like sardines, because you get to mix it with ooey, gooey delicious cheese.
Mmm…tasty. I have finally mastered the art of the grilled cheese sandwich. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was never really good at making a basic grilled cheese sandwich. Either the toast was perfect but the cheese not melted or the toast burned. So to make a quick grilled cheese, I used to toast my bread in the toaster, add the cheese and microwave for about fifteen seconds to melt. Some cook, eh?
Luckily, I’ve found a solution, courtesy of the wonderful Alton Brown! Heat two cast iron pans over medium to medium high heat for five minutes. Turn off the heat and move the larger cast iron pan to a cool burner. Spray with nonstick cooking spray, and put in your prepared grilled cheese sandwich. Spray nonstick cooking spray on the top of the bread, then put the second cast iron pan on top of your sandwich. Walk away.
After about five minutes, you’ll hear a sizzle of cheese and see this beauty:
This sandwich consisted of sprouted rye bread (a new favorite), a can of sardines, sharp cheddar cheese, and dijon mustard.
I served my sardine sandwich with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts seasoned with truffle and sage olive oil, smoked paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper. (Also, did you see how bright my photo is? Natural light, baby!).
Sardines, for the win.
Are you a sardine lover or hater?