Sardines are said to be a new hip food. They are quickly gaining popularity in the United States because of their great taste and easy preparation. Combine them with delicious greens and pasta of your choosing and you'll enjoy a classic Mediter-ranean treat.

Budget-friendly sardines are available fresh or canned in olive oil, mustard sauce and tomato sauce. These little fish are richly flavored and full of omega-3 fat, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. Since they are so low on the food chain and eat plants, not other fish, they don't have the mercury and other toxic load of some seafood. So they are a delicious, safe, healthy seafood option that is too often overlooked.

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Sardines generally come with bones that are soft and easily digested, which is the source of their calcium. In fact, this dish is packed with calcium because kale is also high in this essential nutrient.

If you can find fresh sardines, you may remove the bones by splitting or butterflying them. But you don't have to debone them. Simply gently rub off the scales, remove the head and innards with a small paring knife and rinse. Then they are ready to cook. One note of caution: If you are using fresh sardines, these little fish can easily spoil if stored too long, even in the freezer. So use them within one or two days. In many parts of the world fresh sardines are wrapped in grape or fig leaves and grilled or fried using olive oil and lemon juice. In countries like Italy and Morocco, such dishes are considered the best of seafood.

Sardines are a great way to have more seafood in your diet. Even if you don't normally eat sardines, give them a try. You are in for an unexpectedly delicious treat.


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