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.
- 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
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the olive oil, parsley and vinegar.
- Season with salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes, if using.
- Divide the sardines into fillets and discard any bones.
- Add the sardines to the vinaigrette and marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
- Cut the avocado in half and peel away the skin.
- Put it on a cutting board and cut the avocado into thin slices.
- Toast or grill the bread.
- Lightly brush the top side of each toast with the vinaigrette.
- Divide the avocado slices among the toasts, top with a portion of the sardines, and scatter green onions and chives on top.
- Serve at once.