The beautiful triangle of seafood sustainability, good taste, and good health is hard to come by: lots of fish and seafood are overfished or are farmed under ecologically devastating conditions, fresh fish (and therefore fresh taste) can be hard to find, and canned/tinned fish like tuna is more often than not packaged in less-than-stellar oils like soybean and non-extra-virgin olive, in which case the health benefits of the fish are going to share your plate with the anti-health qualities of rancid oils. No, thanks.
Happily, there are a few producers of canned/tinned fish and seafood who actually use extra-virgin olive oil in their products. My latest favorite is Bela, a company specializing in sardines and tuna packaged in a variety of offerings, from extra-virgin olive oil with lemon to pureed tomatoes. Their fish are sustainably harvested from the coast of Portugal and come in easy-to-open tins with a pull tab. They’re ideal for picnics (especially the sardines in tomato sauce — what a great topping for crackers!) and last-minute additions to everything from salads to pasta dishes. Their sardines taste fresher than any other brands that I’ve tried, and you can keep them stashed away in your pantry for months, even years.
Yet another perk? Both sardines and tuna are a great source of those elusive anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. (Well, “elusive” if you mostly eat packaged, processed foods. “Easy” if you plant some lettuce in your garden and like to season your meals with omega-3-packed herbs like fresh basil and mint. And if you focus on getting all of your animal foods from grass-fed animals, from eggs to meats to dairy products. And if you like wild salmon and herring and sardines and tuna… See what I mean about easy?) If you go with fresh lettuce and basil and eggs from pastured hens, every single ingredient in this meal will be rich in omega-3s. It’s a tasty way to cut down on your aspirin purchases.
Sardine, Basil & Egg Salad
Lettuce of your choice, preferably fresh-picked from your garden
Fresh basil leaves (ditto on the garden thing)
1 hard-boiled egg, preferably from pastured hens (see this post for instructions on hard-boiling eggs)
1 tin of sardines packed in water or extra-virgin olive oil (I used Bela’s sardines packed with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon)
Rinse lettuce and basil leaves and pat dry. Scatter onto a plate. Peel egg and cut into quarters or chop into smaller pieces. Top the leaves with the egg and the sardines. Drizzle with that delicious top-notch oil from the sardines and top with a few quick grinds of fresh black peppercorns.
* Hippocrates was the Greek physician who famously said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I couldn’t agree more.
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