Friday, April 15, 2011

Brain Food Snacks: Sardine Toasts

It's Friday night. Time for snacks. Too chilly to have them out on the patio, so indoors will have to do.

Today I want to talk about sardines. Don't be afraid.

Sardines are super healthy for you and considered "brain food". They are high in omegas and super rich in vitamin B-12 & vitamin D. Why don't I eat more of them?

They are best of course fresh, if you can find them (which I never can), and grilled.
I always order them grilled w/ breadcrumbs when I see them on a menu.
If you have never had Pasta con Sarde, try it, it's one of my 3 favorite pasta dishes.

When buying sardines you have many choices, but I find the best ones are from Spain, Morocco or Portugal, and may cost a dollar more. They are the meatiest and use the best quality olive oils to pack them in.

We did a sardine taste test at home. I bought a dozen brands (we got tired of eating sardines at the end of the day, thank goodness there was wine to wash them down), and the winner of the Stacey Snacks Sardine Throwdown was Food Emporium brand. They were from Portugal and were meaty and delicious with a mild flavor.
I hope I can find them again (Food Emporium is a NYC food store chain).

2nd place winner was SEASON brand.
These were boneless and skinless, meaty little fishies with a pleasant aroma packed in olive oil. Wild caught in Morocco and can be bought at most major supermarket chains for about $2.50 a can. Bargain.

Our least favorite were the ones from Poland.
They were tiny with hardly any meat. All bones and too much work just to get a little taste.

Years ago in Paris, we went to a cafe and ordered some fancy Spanish Rosa sardines with a baguette for 16 euros to go with our wine. They were presented to our table in the can!! I was shocked! Sardines brought to the table in their tin can with the sleeve rolled back for 20 bucks? How odd.

I have since learned that most cafes in Europe bring good sardines to you in their can.
This month's Food & Wine has just that. An appetizer plate with sardines in the can, balsamic syrup and sea salt.

Ready for snacks?

Sardine Toasts w/ Balsamic Syrup (adapted from Food & Wine)

24 baguette slices, cut on the diagonal 1/3 inch thick
olive oil, for brushing
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cans (3.75 ounces each) olive oil–packed sardines, drained
flaky salt, such as Maldon

Preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush generously with olive oil. Toast for about 10 minutes, until the bread is golden brown; let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the balsamic vinegar over moderately high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes; let cool.

Arrange the toasts on a platter and top with the sardines. Drizzle with a little of the reduced balsamic. Serve with flaky salt for sprinkling.

Every time I eat these I feel myself getting smarter!


Ciao Chow Linda said...

You know how most restaurants put out bread and olive oil? I was at Hamilton Grill in Lambertville last week and guess what they have just started putting out on the tables as a pre-ordering tidbit? Yep, you guessed it - sardines and crusty bread. Delicious, so I'm with you and am glad you and Henry did all that testing and saved me the work.

Gourmet Goddess said...

Whenever I vacation in Greece for the summer - a prerequisite is 1 kilo fresh sardines , dipped in flour , flash fried and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice - HEAVEN !!!!!!


Anonymous said...

So - now you tell me why you're so smart... all because of sardines?????

Proud Italian Cook said...

I could use some brain food, maybe thats my problem, I'm not a sardine lover, but I must say that last photo is very tempting, I would take a bite, and who knows I might change my mind!

Anonymous said...

A quick dip in Pillyvuyt, c'est si bon!

Amie said...

I have never had sardnes and don't know anything about them but have been tempted to try. Are most cans of sardines boneless and if not how do you take out the bones? They just seem so small that it would be tedious and perhaps not worth it. Sorry, it's probably a silly question but like I said I know nothing about sardines ut would love to try - even though I'm a little scared :)

The Japanese Redneck said...

I always mix a can in with my salmon croquets.

Haven't eaten them plain since I was a kid on an all day fishing trip.

Karen said...

Love sardines - I'm going to look for the Food Emporium brand.

Joanne said...

I'll keep an eye out for these Food Emp sardines for you since I live across the street from one. Should I find them, I will give them to you. In exchange that we get coffee. Or lunch. Or something. At some point. Okay good!

Brain food is EXACTLY what I need right now. Obviously my lack of sardines are the reason why studying feels so hard. Need to make this.

Susan said...

My father often had a tin of sardines alongside his lunch. He loved them. I have never tried them, but I think it's time.

Eileen said...

Whoops! I replied under my sister's name (Susan), but I'm sure she would have said the same thing ;-)

Lori Lynn said...

I saw the article and was intrigued. Thanks for the tips.