Appetizer/ Main Course

Sardines on Toast with Chickpea Salad

April 25, 2020 (Last Updated: July 30, 2020) by Chef Molly
sardines on toast with chickpea salad on plate next to bowl of chickpea salad and sardine tin

Sardines on Toast are one of the easiest and yummiest ways to enjoy the super healthy sardine. Take it to the next level by adding a chickpea-roasted pepper salad. Simple and perfect for lunch! 

Did you know that sardines are one of the most sustainable fish you can eat? Sardines are quite popular in the U.K., and in France, but much less so in the United States. In fact, they’re usually part of that set of foods you only buy when preparing for the apocalypse (or, ahem worldwide pandemic). There’s no better time to change that. Because in addition to their sustainability, sardines are brimming with good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids. And they are beyond easy to prepare, as in this Sardines on Toast with Chickpea Salad recipe. 

This recipe is super simple to make, but has tons of flavor. You can serve it for an appetizer, or make it for lunch or dinner. All you need to do is whisk together a simple vinaigrette, then toss with chickpeas and chopped roasted peppers. Toast some baguette slices or any other bread you have handy, then top with the chickpea salad, then sardines. So healthy and delicious. And quite inexpensive too! 

How to Eat Sardines

Did you know that you can eat sardines straight out of the tin? They are already cooked, so you can just pull them out and eat them by themselves if you like. Pay attention to whether the tinned sardines you buy have been canned with bones or without.

If your sardines have not been deboned, you can still eat them as is—the bones are so small that they just provide a little crunch (and some extra calcium!) with your sardine fillet, and you may not even notice them at all. But, if you prefer not to eat them, the bones are also quite easy to peel off. Just insert a knife or your finger in the middle of the sardine, and carefully pull it into two halves. You can then lift the bones off gently, usually all in one piece. 

How Do I Make Sardines on Toast?

Start by making your toasts. These are instructions for using a baguette, but you can use whatever kind of bread you’d like (or use crackers instead of bread). Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Cut baguette into 1/3-inch thick slices. Place in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Use a pastry brush to paint the toasts with the olive oil mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. 

ingredients for sardines on toast: sardines, chickpeas, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, roasted peppers

Meanwhile, whisk together 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Then whisk in 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

large white bowl with red wine vinaigrette in it and whisk

Drain and rinse 1 can of chickpeas, then pat dry. Drain a jar of roasted peppers, then pat dry. Cut peppers into 1/2-inch pieces. Add chickpeas and peppers to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss gently.

chickpeas and roasted peppers tossed with red wine vinaigrette in large bowl with spoon

Drain sardines and separate each sardine into halves or smaller pieces. Spoon chickpea salad onto toasts and top with sardines. Garnish with fleur de sel, if desired. 

bowl of chickpea and roasted pepper salad and sardine tin next to plate with toasts being assembled

Going Beyond Sardines on Toast

Besides eating sardines straight out of the tin or making my Sardines on Toast recipe, there are many other things you can do with sardines. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • add them to pasta, along with some lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs
  • serve plain sardines squeezed with lemon juice and sprinkled with sea salt on toast
  • make fish cakes by chopping finely and mixing with egg, cooked potatoes, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and breadcrumbs
  • lay tomato slices and arugula on pieces of toast or sturdy crackers, then top with sardines and a squeeze of lemon (or try with avocado and thinly sliced jalapeños!)
  • serve them with a fried egg, toast, and a splash of hot sauce for breakfast
  • serve on a salad along with olives and capers
  • use them for a pizza topping
  • replace your usual fish with sardines in fish tacos
  • add them to a rice bowl with a 7-minute egg and some steamed veggies
  • make a version of rillettes by mashing sardines with cream cheese, butter, and chives
  • enjoy a SBLT: a bacon, lettuce, tomato, and sardine sandwich. Don’t forget the mayo! 

Are Sardines Always Canned?

No, you can find fresh sardines as well. That said, fresh sardines are highly perishable, which explains why you often find them canned. Sardines are common in many parts of the world, but especially in Europe, so it’s more common to find fresh sardines there. 

Sardine Health Benefits

Sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin B12. Did you know that many people are deficient in Vitamin D? Here in France, we take vitamin D supplements in the winter because there are not enough daylight hours to provide our usual dose from sunlight. Why not get some of your vitamin D with sardines? In addition, sardines are high in protein, punching way above their weight class based on the number of calories. Finally, since sardines feed only on plankton, they don’t contain high levels of mercury unlike some larger fish. In fact, canned sardines may be one of the healthiest foods that you can keep in your pantry or take with you on a hike or camping trip.

Are Sardines Sustainable?

Yes! In fact, sardines are one of the most sustainable fish around. Unlike many other fish species suffering from overfishing, sardines are still quite abundant in our oceans and don’t appear to be declining in population.

What Are the Best Canned Sardines?

Personally, I love the French Rodel brand of sardines. They come in a few different flavors, some with bones and some without. Connetable is also a good choice. Sardines are usually packed in either water or olive oil. There are fewer calories in sardines packed in water, but I think that packing in oil really improves the taste and texture of the sardines.  

Other Ideas for Sardine Recipes

Have you ever thought of replacing other fish or meats with sardines instead? How about using sardines in my Classic Nicoise Salad recipe or my Chickpea Tuna Salad instead of tuna? They would be lovely along with this Green Bean Salad with Baked Goat Cheese. Or served on top of Egg Salad with Bacon. Why not add them to this Quinoa Chickpea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette? In the summer, when tomatoes are at their peak, I’ll serve them with this Tomato Salad (Salade de Tomatoes)

Soup and Sardines on Toast?

One of my favorite easy lunches is simply serving sardines on toast with a squeeze of lemon and sprinkling of salt along with a bowl of soup. You might try them next to my French Lentil Soup or my Vegan Potato Leek Soup. Or how about with my Carrot Ginger Soup with Creme Fraiche? I promise you’ll enjoy any of those combinations, and your body will soak in the goodness of sardines and all those vegetables. 

sardines on toast with chickpea salad close up on blue plate
close up of sardines on toast with chickpea salad

Sardines on Toast with Chickpea Salad

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Sardines on Toast get an upgrade in this easy recipe. Just toss chickpeas and roasted peppers in a red wine vinaigrette, add sardines, and serve!

Ingredients

Baguette Toasts

  • 1 baguette
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper

Sardine and Chickpea Salad

  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas (310g)
  • 1 jar roasted peppers (280g)
  • 2 tins sardines (140g), boneless preferred
  • fleur de sel, to garnish (if desired)

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius).
    2. Cut baguette into 1/3-inch thick slices. Place in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan.
    3. Combine olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Use a pastry brush to paint the toasts with the olive oil mixture.
    4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden.
    5. Meanwhile, whisk together 1 T. red wine vinegar and 3 T. olive oil in a large bowl.
    6. Then whisk in oregano, salt, and pepper.
    7. Drain and rinse chickpeas, then pat dry.
    8. Drain roasted peppers, then pat dry. Cut peppers into 1/2 inch pieces.
    9. Add chickpeas and peppers to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss gently.
    10. Drain sardines and separate each sardine into halves or smaller pieces.
    11. Spoon chickpea salad onto toasts and top with sardine pieces.
    12. Garnish with fleur de sel, if desired.

Notes

A baguette is not necessary for this recipe: feel free to replace with whatever bread you have handy, toasted or not. You can also serve sardines and chickpeas on crackers.

Note that sardines come both with bones and without. If you can find boneless, that works easiest for this recipe, but with bones works as well. As you are separating the sardines into halves, just peel off the strip of bones in the middle of the fish.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 517Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 954mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 15g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

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