The tins of smoked Portuguese sardines sat on the second shelf of her pantry for some time. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them, it was just, well, they were sardines. A very polarizing little fish. She liked them at the grocery store when the demo specialist would hand her a cracker smeared with avocado and topped with sardines in tomato sauce. But moving them from emergency food kit status to meal time main? She remained hesitant. Sardines were slowly becoming a culinary trend for their sustainability and high omega-3s, but still, they were sardines. And she feared if she put them front and center, she’d be met with the village mob scene from Frankenstein, you know the one. Pitchforks.
The night sardines got a starring role on the dinner plate, there was little time to fear the fish. The family was hungry and they needed to eat, now. Her pantry offered all the tricks for a quick dinner; protein, acid, and something crunchy. Her fridge yield a few green vegetables who would benefit from a coat of olive oil and sometime on the grill. In the cupboard sat a mason jar housing one sole cup of quinoa, begging to be made into a grain salad.
You’d think someone with 15 plus years in the food industry, plus a culinary degree wouldn’t need a second thought about just throwing a meal together. But overthinking things was a specialty of hers, and every time a meal came together on a wing and a prayer she felt a twinge of joy, like she beat the system. But truth be told, she could just throw-things-together. It didn’t happen all the time, but more and more, a lunch here a dinner there, she had this. Sardines and all.
Quinoa and Kale salad with Sardines, Avocado and Marcona almonds. Cook some quinoa and let it cool on a large platter or baking sheet. In a large bowl, add a few handfuls of baby kale, or arugula, or baby spinach. Add an avocado- pitted and diced, some olives, really any kind, just enough to add salt, grill some veggies, whatever in your fridge could benefit from a second life of char (I like broccoli, zucchini, and asparagus), and a tin of smoked Portuguese sardines- plain, in tomato sauce, or cayenne. Toss in the dressing of your choice, I used what I had left of Marshall’s Gin Roasted Pepper Haute Sauce with Olive Oil.