Recipe: Portuguese Sardine Salad | Catavino
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Recipe: Portuguese Sardine Salad

sardine salad As the weather warms up in the northeast, we begin to itch with a desire to do outdoorsy activities. Grilling is one of them! But I’ll admit that a whole lot of what seems ideal in my mind has trouble coming together in practice when the day flies by and I’m too exhausted to go fuss over coals. All I want is a glass of wine and a meal that’s easy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want interesting flavors and hints of summer in my tasting notes! And when it comes to warm weather, nothing is more fitting for a Portuguese than barbecued sardines. (photo by Sonia Nolasco) Sardinhadas (sardine barbecues) are a staple of spring and summer in Portugal, especially in June during the saints feasts. Typically, the juicy, sweet and salty sardines are charred to perfection and served atop a slice of cornmeal bread (broa). The meal also includes a side salad of lettuce, tomatoes, charred bell peppers, onions and sometimes boiled potatoes. With these flavors in mind, I like to create “saints feast sardine salads” using Portuguese canned sardines, ideal for easy weekday meals. Leave the messy coals for the weekend when you have a little more time on your hands. I get my canned sardines at the Portuguese supermarket Seabra, but you can also get them at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I especially like “Petingas,” which are bite-size sardines, about the size of a small thumb. I char up a bell pepper, either in the broiler or on a cast iron pan, mince onion and toss with lettuce and vinaigrette. I top the salad with the sardines. You can also boil potatoes, skin on baby Yukons are terrific for this dish. The bonus, sardines are rich in heart healthy omegas. Canned sardines are even more so, since the nutrient-filled bones become eatable during the canning process. Who needs to mess with coals when you’ve got cans! Here’s what you’ll need:

Saint's Feast Sardine Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Portuguese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cans of sardines
  • Lettuce of choice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small bell pepper
  • Tomatoes (optional)
  • 8 Baby Yukon potatoes (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • Coarse salt
  1. If boiling potatoes, start them first and char the bell pepper (optional; can leave raw if preferred).
  2. When bell pepper is charred, let cool, peel the skin and cut into strips. Mince the onion.
  3. In a bowl, add the chopped lettuce, peppers and onion and sliced tomatoes (Roma tomatoes work well).
  4. Season with salt and black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar.
  5. Toss all ingredients and place equal portions on individual plates; top each one with the sardines and serve with the boiled potatoes.


Sonia Andresson-Nolasco

Custom Food Tours Portugal

  • Hi Sonia — wow, first your goat post, now sardines! I can see that we are very much on the same page in terms of culinary likes. This most recent post is very helpful since we will be having a “Santos Populares” event at our Sausalito Portuguese Hall next month. In the spirit of the event, I had originally hoped to serve some grilled local sardines. However, the commercial fishing season for sardines here in California was cancelled due to low sardine stocks so fresh sardines are out. Hence, canned will be the next best thing. I look forward to trying your recipe and will share it to the Hall’s Facebook page in the near future. Incidentally, I am sure you are familiar with the annual sardine art contest that they conduct in Lisboa as part of their Festa de Lisboa and São António celebrations? There has been some incredible imagination displayed in the submissions over the years. We actually borrowed that idea in connection with a Festival we have here in Sausalito featuring Pacific herring (sadly not quite as tasty as sardines). In any case, on the canned sardine front, I thought the attached entries from the Lisbon contest were particularly appropriate! Muito obrigado. Mike

    • Sonia Nolasco

      Hi Michael, so happy to hear the post will be useful to you! One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is play around with Portuguese canned fish – way before it became trendy to do so! It was just something simple I learned from my family in Portugal, who often had to live on a canned sardine budget 😉 Did you get to visit any of the gourmet canned restaurants when in Lisbon? I had some tuna from Sol e Pesca, and I couldn’t believe the quality. Almost like seared Ahi Tuna. It was expensive, though, but still incredible for canned fish. The best part is that you can bring it back to the U.S. with you. Let’s just say that it looked like I was trying to smuggle in an entire small store in my suitcase! Love the sardine contest. The ones you posted are especially fun.