I think sardines are one of those things that growing up always sounded like punishment. Let me remind you that Brussels sprouts used to top the list of ‘ick factor’ foods and now everyone loves them. In fact I was at Cochon, a hot and foodie meat heavy restaurant in New Orleans last week and by 7PM they were already sold out of Brussels Sprouts to my disappointment. I digress.
I did not grow up as an adventurous eater. My early years were characterized by a staple diet of lamb chops, string beans and a variety of other raw vegetables. Perhaps my family should have had foresight that I was showing early signs of destiny to be a nutritionist! I was way ahead of the paleo craze.
I was starting to take some graduate courses, this must have been about 2009, and was doing some odd jobs at the time. One project I worked on was transcribing interviews for an awesome website (www.fedguides.com) and stumbled upon a pasta and sardine recipe. Something possessed me to try this – had I ever tried sardines before? This recipe was a game changer for me – and to this day is a staple in my repertoire. Depending on how I am feeling now I will swap out and use gluten-free pasta and sometimes exclude the onions – but the onions are divine, and if I didn’t have to avoid them I would not.
The FED website has now been redone and I cannot find the recipe so I will have to tell you from memory:
- chop up an onion and cook over medium heat, sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes, squeeze half a lemon.
- Take a big handful or more of frozen peas and add to the pan.
- In the meantime cook pasta in a separate pot – rotini works well for this, something with some heft so it can carry along the delicious add-ons.
- Once the peas have cooked, add 1-2 cans of sardines to the onion and pea mixture, stir to combine so that the sardines come apart gently.
- Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the mixture and enjoy!
So I like sardines, but why should you? So many people still make a face when I bring up sardines – but then I ask them, have you ever tried them, and they admit they have not!
- Have low mercury levels because they are small, and mercury accumulates in larger fish, making them a good choice for children and in pregnancy.
- Contain a large amount of calcium, even more than milk – it’s in the bones!
- Affordable protein choice – they are around the same price as canned tuna.
- They have a lot of flavor – which is a differentiator when you are looking at other bland canned foods.
If you are already a fan, try my pasta recipe, and if you have been too afraid to try – make today the day to try something new!