Sardine Salad with Grits

I dig the polenta craze, which if you haven’t noticed has hit us pretty hard lately. Every newspaper and magazine from Beaverton to Austin to New York (that is a geographic Axis of Awesome if i’ve ever heard of one) seems to have a write-up about shrimp and grits this week.  And I’m a huge fan. This dish was inspired by all the fun chipotle grits and skewered prawns we ate in Texas last month, and by a really good tuna salad Care threw together using lots of Celeriac, Carrots, Radish and Leeks. I figured I’d try the middle ground between big fish and swimming crustaceans and went for a can of sardines in a light oil for the fish.  My grandfather was a major subscriber to the sardine salad, it was a staple at most family meals. Trust me, it may sound off putting, but it’s quite delicious. Factor in that its low on the sea food chain (hence low in mercury) and high in B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and more, and you’ll gladly give the cheap little can of fish a try. Plus did I mention it calls for Celeriac? Makes great sandwich fixings and bagel melts too.


Sardine salad

1 can sardines in oil

1 small onion (diced into fine pieces)

1 leek (diced into fine pieces)

1 carrot ( washed & grated)

1/2 celeriac (peeled & grated)

1 small turnip or radish (washed and grated)

2 T chopped parsley (celeriac or parsley root greens are great too)

3 T tomato sauce (from the can is ok, leftover from pizza the night before is better)

1 T lemon juice

salt and pepper

Combine the ingredients in a bowl and mix until incorporated. The sardines should be mixed until they have broken apart and are well integrated with the rest of the salad. Cover bowl with a lid and refrigerate until needed. Keeps for 4 days.


7 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

pinch baking soda

1 1/2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal (yellow grits as they are sometimes called, look for polenta grains about the size of quinoa or cous cous)

2 tablespoons butter

4 ounces Parmesan or other dry cheese , grated (about 2 cups)

fresh ground black pepper

1/4 lb gound pork sausage (optional but highly recommended)

In a 4 quart sauce pan, bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the salt and baking soda. Using a wooden spoon or spatula to stir back and forth, slowly pour the cornmeal into the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Turn down heat to low and cover for 5 minutes.

Next whisk the polenta to smooth out any lumps, and scrape down the sides of the pan to incorporate everything into the simmer. Cover again and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, no longer stirring, until the polenta is tender but slightly al dente.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a spoon and stirring often. It should sizzle and have enough oil on its own, but if it is sticking you can add a teaspoon of butter or other oil. Turn off heat when it is done and save in pan.

Turn off the element and stir in butter and cheese, seasoning with black pepper.

Pour the mixture into a medium sized casserole pan,  top with sausage, and let cool for 30 minutes or overnight.

To serve, reheat in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes at 325, and slice into wedges. Garnish with sardine salad on the side and a dollop on top.

| March 16th, 2013 | Posted in meat dishes, Recipes, Roots |

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