I am never one to turn down a good sardine recipe, something I owe in part to my Irish heritage. (Both my grandfather and Sean’s grandmother were fond of piling them on Saltine crackers as a snack, and Sean and I like eating them in all sorts of dishes, so through this small population sample, I’ve deduced that people of Irish descent must like sardines.)
Yesterday I found a recipe for Alton Brown’s open-faced sardine and avocado sandwiches, which he apparently ate in massive quantities to help him lose weight a few years back. While I don’t think I could live off of this sandwich, it was satisfying enough for dinner last night–and super tasty.
As much as I love both sardines and avocados on their own, I had never thought to put them together. It is BRILLIANT! The creamy avocado tempers the oceanic brininess of the sardines just enough. Plus, the syrupy zing from the sherry vinegar combined with bright lemon zest and grassy parsley liven up the flavors of the canned fish.
Use a good-quality bread with some heft and flavor of its own for the sandwich. And be warned: If you don’t already love the flavor of sardines, I don’t think this sandwich will change your mind. It’s definitely sardiney, which is exactly why I loved it (and why Penny followed me around for an hour after dinner was over).
Note: Alton’s recipe calls for incorporating oil from the sardine cans into the mixture, but I prefer the flavor of a fruity extra virgin olive oil.
makes two open-faced sandwiches
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tin sardines packed in oil (King Oscar or Matiz Gallego), drained
1/2 large ripe avocado
2 thick slices good-quality sourdough or whole wheat bread, smeared with olive oil and toasted
Sea salt, to taste
2 slices lemon, for garnish
Method: In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, half the parsley, the vinegar, lemon zest and black pepper. Add the sardines and stir. Let the mixture sit for 15 or 20 minutes so the flavors meld.
Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Smoosh the flesh in one half with a fork and spread it evenly onto the bread, then pile the sardine mixture on top, smoothing it out with a fork. Dribble any remaining dressing over top and garnish with the remaining parsley. Season with a sprinkling of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.