Recession Eats: Sardines

June 21, 2012 10:54 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Hello, I'm delicious. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

They came in tins, covered in oil, heads in tact, and terrified children. But you're an adult now, according to our market research, and that means there's nothing left to fear but fear itself, and the economy, and the reaper. Getting over your fears of these not-gross, protein-filled fish that are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids for your brain will not only improve your health and brain power-- they'll save you money. We'll show you all our favorite ways to enjoy sardines.

1. Right out of the can.

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Okay, so this one may take some getting used to, but think of it as the food equivalent of your father pushing you into the pool to teach you to swim. Peel back a can, grab a fork, scold your cat for begging, and dig in. The fish will be cool from being kept in a dark nether-region of your pantry till today. Its natural saltiness will pair nicely against the olive oil preserving it. This is one of the most sublime ways to enjoy a quick snack, even if it comes at the expense of loved ones recoiling from your kiss.

2. On a cracker.

Though so many sardines come pre-flavored, swimming in hot sauce or mustard, we stress that you should go with ones that come either preserved in water or olive oil. You'll be adding your favorite hot sauce and/or mustard to them in a second, so there's no need to rely on some company to use whatever acrid stuff they have lying around.

Open up your can of sardines and mash them with the back of your fork. See how easy that was? Spread them on a cracker and top them with a squirt of your favorite hot sauce. We recommend Frank's Red Hot over Tabasco for this, but don't get used to that as our preference.

A mustard fan? We've got you covered. Spread your favorite spicy brown or proper yellow mustard on the cracker before you add the fish. Put your feet up and enjoy a fast plate of finger food.

3. Tossed with pasta.

And now, our absolute favorite way to enjoy sardines: as the base for a pasta sauce. This was inspired by a combination of Italian putanesca-- a tomato-based sauce that uses anchovies and capers to add flavor and buzzworthy odor-- and tab ng talanka, a filipino pasta sauce made out of rendered crab fat.

Boil penne pasta according to the package. In a separate pot, flash-cook asparagus in a quick vegetable brine. Drain the greens and add them to an ice bath.

In a saucepan, cook one cup of chopped cherry tomatoes, all the contents of a can of sardines packed in olive oil, and two cloves chops garlic over medium-high heat, until the sardines start to melt.

Drain the pasta, which should be just under al dente at this point, reserving a half cup of the cooking water. Combine the asparagus and the just-undercooked pasta into the saucepan with the melted fish and tomatoes. Stir till combined, adding the half-cup of cooking water little-by-little.

Serve. Weep.


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