Sardine snack packs a flavorful punch

Christine Gallary

Fact: Canned sardines are polarizing. You either love ’em or hate ’em. If you’re in the “love ’em” camp, here’s an easy snack (or even a light lunch) that celebrates canned sardines and pairs them with tangy pickled onions, zesty Dijon mustard and nutty crispbreads.

I find canned sardines intensely fishy, so other strong flavors are needed to balance everything out. Quick-pickled onions are just the ticket: They’re easy to make with pantry ingredients and have a nice, tart bite that mellows out the natural spiciness of the onion, and the leftovers are fabulous in a sandwich or salad.

As for the actual sardines, you can use whichever kind you like; oil-packed or water-packed will work just fine. Just use a fork to lift the fish out of the packing liquid. I dare say even canned tuna or salmon would be great in place of the sardines, but don’t forget the smear of mustard on top of the cracker! It’s what brings everything together.

Sardine Snacking Toasts

For the pickled onions

1 small red onion (about 5 ounces)

1/2 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

For the toasts

4 Wasa crispbreads

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 (3.5-ounce) can sardines

For the pickled onions: Peel and halve the onion lengthwise. Thinly slice the halves and set aside.

Bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat, add the onion, and stir to combine, making sure all the onions are submerged in the liquid. Let sit for 15 minutes before using. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

For the toasts: Spread a teaspoon of mustard on each crispbread. Divide the sardines among the crispbreads and gently smash into an even layer with the back of a fork. Place a thin layer of pickled red onions over the sardines (save the remaining onions for another use) and serve immediately. Makes 4 toasts.

Per serving: 105 calories; 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat; 17 percent calories from fat); 15 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 9 mg cholesterol; 568 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber.