Sardine Salad with Mayo, Mint, and Smoked Paprika

Sardines.

{sigh}

I really do believe that if you try something and you don’t like it, the best thing to do is to approach it in a new way, rather than give up on it entirely. Some things don’t make great first impressions. And some things we do because we’re grown-ups and we just should. I have wasted little tins in the past because I just could not get my mouth open for one. But I know I should eat sardines. You should too. Want to know why? Summer Tomato has six reasons summed up:

1. They’re good for you.
Sardines pack an awesome nutritional punch. A single serving has around 23 grams of protein and is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and potassium, and only 200 calories. And even with canned sardines, all this goodness comes with only around 400 mg of sodium, which is relatively little for a canned product. Plus, they’re often packed in olive oil, itself an important component of a healthy diet.

2. They aren’t bad for you.
Sardines are low on the oceanic food chain, and therefore contain low amounts of mercury, PCBs and the other toxins that accumulate in longer-living marine predators such as salmon and tuna. This makes them a particularly good choice for children and pregnant women.

3. They’re sustainably fished.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s SeafoodWATCH rates sardines as a “Best Choice”. Sardine stocks are, once again, abundant, healthy and are now well-managed.

4. They’re affordable.
Prices per oz. of canned sardines are on a par with canned tuna, poultry, ground beef and other supermarket protein sources. Prices of fresh sardines vary with availability, but they are usually among the less expensive fresh fish on display.

5. They taste like fish.
In a supermarket landscape dominated by bland, artificially dyed salmon fillets, pale tuna steaks, frozen fish sticks, artificial crab meat and other attempts to sell seafood as generic chicken-like protein slabs to people who aren’t sure if they actually like it, sardines stand out. You simply can’t ignore the fact that they are, well, fish. They look like fish, being too small to fillet or grind up. They smell like fish. They are oily. They have heads and tails, scales and bones. And they taste fishy.

This is, as most people who genuinely enjoy food know, a good thing.

6. They’re delicious.
This is ultimately the most important point in favor of consuming more sardines: they are a pleasure to eat. Simple, easy to prepare and downright delicious.

Not only did I make sardines in a way that was quick and healthy, but I really enjoyed eating this salad. My tips: If you’re squeamish for whatever reason about sardines like I am was, get these skinless and boneless sardines in olive oil. Crown Prince is pretty well known for doing it right.

If possible, make your own mayo. It’s worlds above the processed, vegetable oil stuff and tastes completely amazing. Like mayonnaise heaven. I finally quit trying to make it in my too-forceful Vitamix and made it in the food processor, which worked brilliantly. This recipe nails it. Once you have fresh, homemade mayo in your fridge, the possibilities are endless.

Sardine Salad with Mayo, Mint, and Smoked Paprika

Ingredients:
1 3.75 ounce tin of boneless, skinless sardines, drained of their oil
2 Tbs mayonnaise
1 packed Tbs mint, finely chopped
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions:
In a small bowl, mash the sardines with a fork, then add the other ingredients and mix well. Eat as is, on greens, in a little wrap, on roasted vegetables, or however suits you. Olives and tomatoes love this too.

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