These little fish rank high among overlooked health foods. A member of the herring family, sardines are chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12; canned sardines’ soft, edible bones provide vitamin D and calcium, too. They’re also an economical and sustainable seafood pick. Purchase canned sardines in water, olive oil, or flavored with herbs, tomatoes, mustard, or other enhancements.
Pizza. For an anchovy alternative, layer sliced or whole canned, drained sardines atop a pizza crust with marinara sauce, slivered garlic, chopped red onion, capers, and red pepper flakes. Bake until heated through.
Appetizer. Heat canned diced tomatoes with drained and chopped sardines, some of the sardines’ flavored oil, minced garlic, Italian herbs, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon. Mound on toasted baguette slices and sprinkle with parsley or shaved fennel.
Sandwich. Mix drained, flaked sardines with finely chopped red onion and Dijon mustard. Spread on bread and broil until hot; top with sliced avocado or tomato.
Sardine Salad with Olives and Feta
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flaxseed oil
¼ teaspoon freshly ground mixed black, white, green, and pink pepper, or to taste
5 ounces baby kale or frisée lettuce, or a combination
3 green onions, thinly sliced on a sharp diagonal (white and green parts)
8 sardines in olive oil, drained and blotted
4 ounces Greek feta cheese (rinse for less salt)
20 green olives, preferably Castelvetrano, rinsed and drained
1. Grate zest from lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from lemon and add to bowl, along with vinegar, oils, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until emulsified. (Makes 1/2 cup.)
2. Combine greens and onions in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss thoroughly. Divide salad among four plates. Halve sardines lengthwise and remove spines. Place over salads, skin side up. Cut feta into slices about ¼-inch thick and place around edges. Dot salad with five olives per plate. Serve at once.
PER SERVING: 300 cal, 26g fat (10g mono, 7g poly, 7g sat), 59mg chol, 12g protein, 11g carb, 3g fiber, 670mg sodium