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OK, now for those of you who say you don’t like canned sardines, don’t tune me out yet. Because maybe you’ve never eaten canned sardines as good as these. They’re called pilchards in England (just another name for a large sardine) and come from the Cornwall region.  These, from The Pilchard Works, are caught off the shores of Cornwall and are hand-packed and canned in the traditional way in partnership with the oldest sardine cannery in Brittany, France. The lids of the tins are works of art, with reproductions of paintings by Newlyn School painters, Walter Langley and Frank Bramley.

I brought some home with me from my trip to Cornwall last fall, and was surprised at how much better they were than the ones I buy in the supermarkets here. So much so, that I asked my ex-pat daughter to bring some tins for me on her recent business trip from London to New York.

I am a big fan of fresh sardines and anchovies but it’s not easy to find them fresh here in the states. Canned sardines were always in our pantry when I was growing up and my 96 year-old father, who is still in good health, eats them in sandwiches regularly.

Not only do they taste delicious, they’re one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re packed with nutrients that are good for you, including vitamin D, B12 and protein. They also contain one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, and they help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

I’m hoping that those of you who have turned up your nose at eating sardines in the past will give these a try. All you have to do to receive a tin of these from me, is to leave a comment stating why you like sardines and how you eat them. If you don’t like them (maybe especially if you don’t like them),  I’ll send you a tin too, because I’d really love to convert you to becoming a sardine aficionado.  Just leave a way for me to contact you.

This recipe from Paula Wolfert, really is a delicious blending of flavors that I would never have thought to put together, but I will be making again and again. Even my husband, who rarely eats either avocado or canned sardines, raved about the combination. I hope you’ll try it too.

Avocado and Sardine Toasts
From the Book "Unforgettable" by Emily Kaiser Thelin
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 scant tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 (4½ ounce) cans whole sardines (I used one can)
  • 1 large firm, ripe Hass avocado
  • 4 to 6 thin slices country-style bread (I used 3 slices)
  • 4 green onions (I used one), white and green parts, cut into very thin slices
  • fresh chives, snipped
  1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil, parsley and vinegar.
  2. Season with salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes, if using.
  3. Divide the sardines into fillets and discard any bones.
  4. Add the sardines to the vinaigrette and marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
  5. Cut the avocado in half and peel away the skin.
  6. Put it on a cutting board and cut the avocado into thin slices.
  7. Toast or grill the bread.
  8. Lightly brush the top side of each toast with the vinaigrette.
  9. Divide the avocado slices among the toasts, top with a portion of the sardines, and scatter green onions and chives on top.
  10. Serve at once.

This Post Has 26 Comments
  1. Hooray for SARDINES!
    I have not made this combo yet (hard to believe)….but am anxious to try it.
    I love Breton sardines……they are better even than the Portuguese brands……


  2. Ooh. These sound delicious. I love sardines and haven’t eaten them for years — I used to eat them right out of the can for a work day lunch! Will have to try this recipe.

  3. My Father introduce me to Sardine! every Christmas he made a sardine spread which became a family transition……every year!! where he got the recipe no clue…I like to think a old family one!!

  4. I’m one who has turned up my nose at eating sardines all my life, maybe this could change me, I don’t know, but I do know Tony would eat these in a heartbeat, he loves sardines!
    I do love that pretty tin though 🙂

  5. I am happy to say that I love sardines! I enjoy them for lunch at least once a week. Most brands available here are from the Mediterranean but I would absolutely love to try your brand from the Cornwall area. Anyone who loves sardines and says these are the best they’ve ever had is quite a compliment!!

  6. Oh my. You know me and fish… as Bart says “If it swims in the sea it does not cross her lips.” Bart, however, would devour these, and I think he’d enjoy them just as you have presented them. What a beautiful shot. And you are so right about the tins. They are really pretty.

  7. …96 years old… god bless ♥
    Sardines are truly a wonderful and healthy food. I never thought to combine them with avocado, I must try this. It’s a wonderful feeling when you find a product that you love… and this one looks like a winner. Thanks for sharing Linda 🙂

  8. My husband loves sardines but I’ve never been a fan. He’ll eat them for breakfast, lunch or a late night snack. I’m always trying to find “the best of the best” for him and one we can enjoy together. Maybe this is The One!

  9. I haven’t had sardines in ages but I remember liking them. I have never heard of this variety and would love to give them a try! Your father is 96 and in good health, that’s wonderful!

    Tina AT gmail DOT com

  10. My hubby and I love sardines! We’ll make a plate of crackers, spread with Dijon and topped with sliced cheese and sardines.

    Funny story: My husband went deer hunting with a bunch of guys several years ago. Each afternoon, one of the guys would bring out munchies to have. These typically consisted of things like cubed and grilled steak, grilled venison tenderloin, grilled meat in tacos, etc. Pretty much what one ‘normal’ person would eat for dinner… not a snack. When it was hubby’s turn for “hors doeuvres” he fixed up a plate of sardines and crackers. He never heard the end of that. First, because most of the guys didn’t like sardines, and second, it wasn’t a very filling treat for a bunch of men who practically ate nothing but meat! It’s probably been 10-12 years since the “sardine fest” and the guys still bring it up!

  11. Linda, the photo caught my attention and reminded me of how much I love sardines. I agree that it is difficult to find good ones, even here is Southern California. I found some in an Argentine market and now am looking forward to this recipe. What a good idea to add avocados, for an intriguing merge of flavors.

  12. Oh gosh, I haven’t had sardines in years. My husband, who isn’t Italian, would turn his nose up at those. I need to convince him how yummy they are!

  13. Yeah … well … sardines have never worked for me. What can I say? I usually try anything with avocado (salmon being my favorite). Planning a trip to Cornwall in 1-2 years … so maybe then. Maybe. (As I go downstairs to have my avocado on toast.)

  14. Sardines–every once in a while, I buy a can, knowing they’re supposed to be good for me (and my husband). They sit on the shelf until I finally open them, thinking I’ll give them a try, and am so turned off by the odor that I send them right to the garbage disposal. This recipe makes me want to give them one more try, and I would love to try the brand you mention.

  15. I grew up watching my late mom and dad eating sardines but I couldn’t and didn’t. 🙂 I wonder if sardines taste like kippers, because those I love. But thanks for sharing . Those tins have such artistic lids.

  16. As it happens I was just in Whole Foods where there is a sale on Wild Planet sardines from the North Pacific. Your blogpost recipe has motivated me to try these along with a tin from Bar Harbor, Maine! We have recently introduced fresh anchovies into our meals, thrilled to find a way to add more fish with fewer toxins into our diet. Sardines are now most welcome too.

    I have also forwarded your recipe to my 92 year old Italian American dad and his wife, along with my daughter and her family, who living in the Mid West, do not have many decent fish options at the market. We’ve now got some enthusiasm to try them. Thanks for your post!

  17. Hi Linda, I happen to love sardines because I love all seafood, it’s in my DNA (I’m Sicilian, ha!). I have not had the delightful adventure of trying these from England, and would love to try them, especially since it’s lent season, this will be another seafood item for Fish Friday !!!

  18. I’ve never tried sardines, I feel silly saying this but they’ve always seemed a little scary to me even though I have canned tuna all the time. I think it’s time to give them a try!!! : )

  19. Linda, I just love sardines eaten by themselves with nothing else, not even a cracker. I need to experiment with recipes that allow sardines to shine through. You’re right too, it’s very hard to find high quality, flavorful canned sardines in the States! I know that this will be great recipe in my family. . . and if they turn their noses up that just means more for me to enjoy!

  20. We love sardines, Linda! My husband likes them in tomato sauce, while I like them in a mustard sauce, as that is how my Father ate them when I was growing up and I learned to like them from him. I would love to try British sardines. I also like avocados and I will make this sardine/avocado toast tomorrow for lunch as it looks so good!

    PS: Yes, that was Calabrian n’duja in one of the photos on my post. My sister-in-law makes it, as well as Soppressata. She is a phenomenal cook!

  21. PS PS–another photo in my post showed snails and potatoes. They collect the snails in spring when they come out of the ground and freeze them. I was afraid to explain what that dish was in my photos, and have everyone say “UGH!” but it is really a delicious meal! As you know, in Italy nothing goes to waste!

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