Monday, May 21, 2012

Mediterranean fried sardines with olives and winter veg

This dish is one of the most simple, fresh, and flavourful things I have created in a long time...


The Sicilian girl in me was craving a simple Italian seafood dish on the weekend that would provide nourishment in the cold yet a freshness reminiscent of warmer weather. Mediterranean Fried Sardines with Olives and Winter Veg is what I came up with. Naturally, sweet potato and coriander are not 100% Italian, but hey, neither am I.

In an effort to up my Omega-3 fatty acids without upping my mercury levels, I have been eating lots of small, freshwater fish like sardines and mackerel lately. These fish are seriously tasty - and with the addition of their tiny, easily digested bones - are also an excellent source of Calcium. We all know how important calcium is for bone health, but did you know that a deficiency in calcium can also cause hypertension (high blood pressure)? Calcium is implicated in may reactions in the body, including the sending of nerve impulses, and is a vital component for good health. Blood calcium levels are so important, in fact, that a delicate feedback system in our bodies will actually break down bone if our blood calcium levels even drop slightly. This is called 'bone demineralisation, and can lead to osteoarthritis.

Sicilian green olives are a fantastic source of natural Omega-6 fatty acids, which have gotten a bad rap lately due to our over-ingestion of this fat in the form of processed vegetable oils and the diseased meat of malnourished feed-lot animals. Omega-6 in excess can cause many health issues, from inflammation to atherosclerosis to cardio-vascular disease... It is however an essential fatty acid and small quantities are needed in the diet. Olives are a beautiful, natural source of Oleic Acid, an Omega-6 fatty acid.

I have used lots of red, yellow and orange vegetables in this dish for the caratenoids and Vitamin C. I have steamed some of the vegetables and roasted others, however steaming is the best way to retain the water soluble vitamins in these veggies.

Lemon zest has also proven to be very high in Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals in the body. Capsicum or 'peppers' are one of the highest known sources of Vitamin C also, making this dish fantastically uplifting and detoxifying.

We discussed coriander in my Warming Carrot, Coconut and Ginger Soup post, however I'd like to add here that it is also a powerful chelator of heavy metals in the system, making it an important ingredient for anyone regularly exposed to heavy metals to enjoy (read: all of you).

This delicious, Italian-inspired recipe is perfect for winter not only because of its nutrient profile, but because it is just delicious. It's really, really good you guys. So if you love fresh, simple Italian meals, read on.

This recipe serves two hungry people, and takes 20-30 minutes.

Let's get down to it.

Ingredients:


8-10 raw sardine fillets (4-5 fish - certainly NOT tinned)
1 yellow capsicum
1 red capsicum
1 cup heirloom or cherry tomatoes
1 red or spanish onion
1 small sweet potato
2 handfuls green beans, capped and halved if very long
1 generous handful of coriander
Peel of 1/4 of a lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1 generous handful of green Sicilian olives
Plenty of organic, extra virgin olive oil
Himalayan salt

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 190C degrees. Chop your capsicum into rough chunks and red onion into rough wedges. Place on a baking tray with heirloom tomatoes (I used a flat cookie sheet for faster cooking) and coat generously with extra virgin olive oil and Himalayan salt. Place in the hot oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes. I like some bite to remain in my vegetables, but if you want them more tender, roast for 30 minutes instead.

2. Set up your steamer. Once the water is boiling and the vegetables in the oven are ten minutes away from completion, place the thickly sliced sweet potato into the steamer and douse generously in salt. 

3. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan until hot. At this point, the sweet potato should be two minutes away from completion, and the green beans can be added to the steamer. Fry the sardines for 30 seconds - one minute on each side and remove from the pan.

4. Arrange all ingredients on a plate, top with match-stick sliced lemon zest, olives, coriander, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.


Enjoy! xx

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