One of my all-time favorite Sicilian dishes is Bucatini con le Sarde (bucatini, being a fat, long, hollow pasta, with sardines, currants and pine nuts….mmm!).

While I don’t eat wheat- or gluten-based foods these days (including, sadly, bucatini), I still love and appreciate the deliciousness of sardines.

These small, oily fish are a concentrated source of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA). They are an excellent source of Vitamin B12 (vitamin b12 deficiency is linked with heart disease, anxiety, depression, autoimmune disease and infertility in men and women). Sardines are rich in thyroid-supporting minerals, like selenium and iodine. They are also an excellent source of calcium, especially if you eat the bones. Sardines are good source of protein (I often eat them for breakfast!) and a rare food source of Vitamin D.

A 2018 study also found that omega 3 fatty acids derived from fish oil—EPA and DHA—were more effective in stopping the growth of aggressive breast cancer tumors in mice than plant based sources of omega 3s (ALA).  Regularly eating 12 to 16 oz. of cold-water, fatty fish, like salmon, cod and sardines, can be beneficial for overall hormone balance, heart health and may have a protective anti-cancer effect.

I eat plenty of tinned wild-caught sardines (they are my go-to “fast food” protein), but when I find fresh, wild-caught sardines, I always snap them up! They’re a cinch to prepare. Here, I picked up a pound of fresh, whole, wild-caught sardines at Whole Foods; they gutted the fish for me there. (When buying fresh, whole sardines, ask the fishmonger to gut and rinse the sardines for you.)

Once home, I prepare the simple broiled sardines recipe below. If I am really pressed for time, I drizzle lemon juice over the sardines instead of stuffing them with lemon slices.

I eat the entire sardine, including the bones, which are soft and edible. The bones in sardines are one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium. If you prefer to remove the bones, that’s fine. If you decide to eat the bones, just be sure to chew well!

Simple Broiled Sardines

1 to 1-1/2 pounds sardines, gutted and rinsed
1 large organic lemon, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
Celtic sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to “Broil”.

Place oven-proof pan in broiler or oven.

Prepare the sardines: Stuff each sardine with slice of lemon.

Remove pan from the broiler and drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil (it will sizzle). Transfer sardines to the pre-heated, arranging in a single layer.

Season with Celtic sea salt, to taste (judiciously, don’t overdo); then, crumble dried oregano over sardines. Drizzle another tablespoon over the sardines.

Place on top rack in oven or in the broiler) and broil apx. 6-7 minutes, or until fish is opaque and browned (but not burnt!).