*Note to my readers: I received kitchen tools from Crisp Cooking for review. As always, my opinions are absolutely my own.
Is it weird to be squeamish about a food you love?
For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of sardines. This seems a wee bit odd, knowing the sweet-toothed creature that I was (and am), but there’s something about that feisty, briny flavor that hits all the right notes for me. Maybe it just reminds me of my childhood, and spending time at my grandma’s. In my memory, my grandma always had sardines in her pantry, and we kids ate them all the time.
It was simultaneously awesome and terrifying to eat a (nearly) whole fish, bones and all. That seemed incredibly daring — perfect for a kid who wants to do something grown-up and brave, but that won’t get them in trouble. Munching on sardines was only for the big kids, which increased the cool factor by about a million. Sardines on saltines with a glop of yellow mustard was a perfect snack.
Now, of course, knowing that sardines are terribly good for you, being full of calcium and omega-3s, I think Grandma was pretty darned smart to keep them around. These days, I eat them with no hesitation.
I almost feel that I can’t call this a recipe — it’s one of those “I need lunch now – let’s raid the pantry” kind of dishes. I combined my beloved sardines with capers to punch up the saltiness, a a little lemon juice to tame this fishiness, some salt and pepper, and a bit of dill for that bright herbal taste all good salads need.
I also wanted to spiff up my plate: just because it was a quick lunch didn’t mean it had to look rough, right? Half the joy of a good meal is in the presentation. So I played around with some kitchen tools I received from Crisp Cooking, and did some quick fancy cuts. Taking an extra few seconds to do that was simple, but so satisfying to do. I felt like a guest at my own table.
- 1 romaine lettuce heart, washed and cut in a chiffonade
- 1 can sardines in olive oil
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced with a wavy knife
- 1/2 cucumber, cut with a julienne peeler
- 1 scallion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salt and black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
- Create a mound of lettuce on a medium plate.
- Arrange the sardines, pepper slices, and shredded cucumber atop the lettuce as shown in the photo (or whatever way appeals to you). Splash the entire salad with the remaining oil from the can of sardines.
- Sprinkle the scallions and capers over the assorted vegetables, then top with a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Finish with a grind of freshly ground black peppercorns, a pinch of salt and a sprinkling of dill. Serve immediately.