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Recipe: Sardine Tapenade

Updated: Mar 30

Affordable Nutrition is the idea you can eat healthy on a budget. This months recipe features sardines (eek!) which are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

How do you feel about sardines? Love them? Can't stand them? Never tried them? No matter what your stand on sardines is, these little guys are affordable, widely available and nutrient dense. A win-win-win.

Sardines are names after Sardinia, the Italian island, where large groups of sardines were once found. Sardines are an excellent choice from the sea since they are bottom on the food chain and feed only on plankton so have lower levels of heavy metals (compared to other fish).

Sardine Benefits

  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (highly anti-inflammatory and support healthy cell production & cognition)

  • Excellent source of clean protein

  • Promote heart & bone health

  • Source of calcium, B vitamins & vitamin D

  • Contain selenium (a master antioxidant)

  • Rich in magnesium, phosphorus, iodine and zinc

Go for the skin on, bone-in sardines as they will be cheaper than boneless/skinless and more nutrient dense (the vitamins & minerals are in the bones). I also recommend choosing sardines in olive oil as they taste less fishy than sardines in water.

Real talk, sardines used to freak me out. They can be an acquired taste to say the least. I have been working on this recipe for the better half of a year and can confidently say that the acidity of the lemon/tomato + meatyness of garbanzos + kick of the red pepper flakes + saltyness of olives + potent herbs = a fire sardine tapenade that is NOT TOO FISHY.

Sardine Tapenade Served on a Bed of Lightly Steamed Kale

Sardine Tapenade (serves 8-10)

Inspired by Affordable Nutrition by Jessica Bauman


1 can sardines in olive oil (4.4oz), chopped

1 can chickpeas (15.5oz), rinsed & drained

1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)

1/2 cup halved pitted green olives

1 tbs rosemary

1 tbs thyme

1 tbs oregano

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tbs avocado oil (or olive oil)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

juice of a fresh lemon

sea salt & black pepper to taste

This is a great topping for a variety of options - a bed of lightly steamed kale, seeded crackers, sourdough crusty bread, brown rice. Also pairs well with fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, basil). The possibilities are endless.


-Heat the skillet with avocado oil. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

-Add chickpeas, rosemary, thyme, oregano and a pinch of red pepper flakes

-Cook until chickpeas begin to brown and pop (about 4-5 minutes on medium / high heat)

-Stir in diced tomatoes with the liquid, 1/4 cup water and olives (pro tip add in a splash of the olive juice). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

-Add in sardines. Simmer 3 minutes.



Bauman, Jessica. (2019). Affordable Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College

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