Canned Sardines Are Perfect For A Simple Salad

A sardine salad with greens and avocado
A sardine salad with greens and avocado - Alesia.Bierliezova/Shutterstock

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Canned fish is the unsung hero of your kitchen pantry. Rich in protein and packed with flavor, canned fish can add life to a whole lineup of simple meals. Because most kinds have a long shelf life, often up to five years or more, it's a great pantry item to keep on hand. While canned tuna is a classic choice, there is a wide variety of other options. If you're looking to break from the traditional, next time you're choosing a canned fish, try reaching for a can of sardines.

Sardines have been called one of the most underrated fish, and for good reason. Canned sardines boast a briney, complex flavor, and they're much less fishy than canned anchovies. For both lovers of canned sardines and skeptics, we have the perfect suggestion on how to incorporate this fish into your repertoire: Try adding it to a salad. Canned sardines bring a rich-yet-delicate flavor to any salad, without the same high price tag as buying fresh fish. Much like tuna salad, adding it helps create a simple, well-rounded dinner high in protein. (And it can come together quickly.) Almost any meal can benefit from the presence of this tasty, nutrient-dense ingredient.

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

Sardines Add A Heart-Healthy Energy Boost To Your Salad

A round can of sardines
A round can of sardines - Photosiber/Getty Images

While sardines can do well in a lot of dishes, salads make a lot of sense for a few reasons. Aside from the savory flavors they bring to the bowl, this fish is especially rich in heart-healthy oils and also comes packed with plenty of nutrients like energy-boosting protein, bone-healthy calcium, and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. So, adding sardines to a salad amps up what is already typically a nutritious meal choice. Looking beyond nutritional benefits, another upside to cooking with sardines is that they're pretty versatile. You can add them to your salad straight out of the can, or sear them in a pan first with other ingredients -- the choice is yours.

Canned fish may not be universally loved, but it's one of the many foods that are simply misunderstood. Sure, canned foods don't always look pretty, but we're big believers in not knocking anything until you've tasted it for yourself. Plus, if you already enjoy canned tuna, trying sardines isn't much of a stretch.

How To Elevate Your Sardine Salad

Sardine salad with lemon slices
Sardine salad with lemon slices - Dulezidar/Getty Images

Sardines taste great in so many dishes thanks to their relatively mild flavor. If you're looking for the easiest way to incorporate sardines into your salad (this may seem obvious) simply take a few out of the can and toss them on. From there, you can start thinking about what else you might want to add to elevate your salad even more.

One delicious way to make a sardine salad is to brighten up that rich, oily protein with some fresh capers, lemon, and dill. Place that on top of a hearty bowl of greens, and you're on your way to a filling, balanced meal. Fresh greens and bright, acidic ingredients pair well with sardines because they bring a nice contrast to the oily protein. For this same reason, sweet dressings are preferred over savory for sardine salad, challenging the salty taste of sardines. For lovers of tuna salad, sardines would also do well as a straight swap in a sandwich for a perfectly simple and healthy lunch.

Don't be afraid to get creative when you cook with sardines -- their usefulness goes far beyond these simple salads. Who knows, you might eventually just start eating sardines straight out of the can. (And that's a great way to enjoy them too.)

Read the original article on Daily Meal.