Bruschetta alle Sardine – Sardines Bruschetta
Sardines are one of the basic staples of the Mediterranean diet. Sustainable, cheap, and easily available when canned, they represent -together with anchovies and mackerel- the most important source of Omega 3 fatty acid for millions of people around the Mediterranean basin, as well as around the world. They are also rich in proteins and vitamin D and B12, making them a possible key ingredient in a healthy and responsible diet.
The fact that sardines can be preserved, keeping their health benefits, was known since the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used salt or vinegar to preserve them. The canning industry became very important in modern times, not only in Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Scotland all exported canned sardines), but in the US as well: think of Monterey Canning Row, where the business exploded at the beginning of the 20th century, because of the increased demand created by the first world war.
In more recent times sardines lost a bit of their shine, especially in the US, thanks to the availability of many more kinds of fish, as well as a lot of different types of food in general, and a growing economy. This is a pity, because the cost of food often does not reflect the amount of healthy characteristics it contains.
Today we will prepare one of the simplest and most delicious recipes ever: bruschetta with sardines in oil. Be advised, it’s addictive, and could become your favorite quick lunch!
1 can of sardines in Olive Oil, drained
4 slices sourdough bread, toasted
4 small campari tomatoes or any other in season tomato
2 small shallots
2 cloves of garlic
1 roasted red bell pepper
½ a lemon
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, crushed chili pepper flakes, and EVOO to taste
1. Preheat the oven at 380F roast convection mode – if your oven doesn’t have this option just regular heat.
2. Rinse and slice the bell pepper in 2, lengthwise, remove the white seeds. Put it skin up on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, roast in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the skin has become brown and burned. Remove, cover tightly with some aluminum foil, and let it cool. When at room temperature, gently remove all the skin, cut the pepper in strips and season.
3. In the meantime, slice the tomatoes, spread the slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment, season with salt, pepper, oregano, drizzle with EV Olive Oil, and roast in the oven until slightly caramelized, approximately 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
4. Slice the shallots very thin. Chop the basil. Mix. Gently add the roasted tomatoes, the sliced roasted bell pepper. Mix again, season.
5. Roast the bread in the oven or in the toaster.
6. Cut the point of a garlic clove and slightly rub the garlic against the surface of each slice of the bread, to impart a hint of garlic flavor to it.
7. Remove the sardines from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Remove the bones, if any. Gently mix with the other ingredients.
8. Distribute the mix of on each slice. Decorate with a couple more basil leaves. Sprinkle some crashed red chili pepper. Squeeze a couple of drops of lemon juice, and grate some of the peel on top.
A Few Notes:
- As with many Mediterranean recipes, creativity is the norm. Add or remove ingredients following your taste and your pantry. I particularly like to add some capers or sliced black kalamata olives. You can also sauté the shallots in a pan with olive oil to deepen their flavor.
- The same mix would be wonderful for a summer pasta salad! Or if you are not a carb person, just add it to a big arugula salad for a light but nutritious lunch.
- Be careful with salt: often sardines are already salted, and you won’t need to add any extra.
Elisabetta Ciardullo is the founder of Think Italian! Events. As Personal Chef she is an ambassador of the Italian cuisine and culture, bringing it into the private homes of Americans, as well as to many corporate clients in Los Angeles.