I learned a lot about the power of simple fresh ingredients when I lived in Naples Italy for a short time. In Tuscany, I was introduced to the concept of an agriturismo (agriculture and tourism). Here, restaurants would seasonally rotate their menu based on what they were growing on the land around them. This was way before farm to table took off – the Italians are always way ahead when it comes to food and freshness. I remember going down to the wharf and seeing the fishermen come in to sell their catches of the day right off the boat. It was a busy scene where people filled their baskets full of fresh produce and fish, notably sardines.
Sardines are one of the best whole food natural sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids on the planet! These are essential, as our bodies cannot make them. Sardines provide high amounts of both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) essential fatty acids. These promote brain function and reduce the risk for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, especially DHA. They also help to rapidly reduce inflammation, improve heart health and studies show EPA and DHA lower risk of chronic disease. Sardines are also rich in other nutrients to include vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and selenium.
I love this as a side dish. I am liberal about splashing a good quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) on top, as studies show how beneficial EVOO is for brain health. EVOO paired with sardines means you have got yourself a double brain-on whammy! If you aren’t fond of sardines, please try this dish anyway. Friends of mine who don’t love sardines tell me that this is the only way that they will eat them. The arugula I put in here because it adds a peppery depth of flavor, but it contains sulforaphane being a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. Sulforaphane helps to activate our major detoxification Nrf2 pathway. This compound reduces oxidative stressors in the body and is anti-aging too!
- 250g 4 x 120g Can Sardines, discard the skin and bones, rinsed properly
- 50g 2 Cups Arugula
- 45g ⅓ Cup Red Onion, chopped
- 17g ½ Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 15g 1 Tbsp Capers
- 15g 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil
- 14g 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2g 1 Red Chilli, minced
- 1g ¼ tsp Unrefined Salt
- Cracked Black Pepper to taste
- 60g 3 Sliced Lemon Wedges
- 15g 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- On the stove, on medium heat, in a pan, melt the oil.
- Add in onion, garlic, capers, and chili. Stir for one minute.
- Add in the sardines. Stir through for 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and fold through fresh parsley, arugula, salt, and pepper.
- Serve warm or cold with lemon wedges and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Storage: Best served immediately. You can store this dish for up to three days in an airtight sealed container in the fridge.