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Good Mood Sardines

(recipe, Rebecca Katz & Mat Edelson)

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At heart, many cooks secretly fancy themselves to be magicians. Maybe it's because people so often ask, "How did you do that?" But unlike say, Houdini, I always tell the tale behind the magic. Take sardines. I love them because they're extremely high in omega-3s and vitamin D, both of which tend to be in short supply in people's diets. Thanks to those mood-boosting nutrients, sardines are like little antidepressants in a can. That said, some culinary wizardry will be required to turn sardine skeptics into wild-eyed fans. Take my kitchen assistants, Jen and Katie. They swore they couldn't stand sardines. I simply said, "You haven't had them the way I make them," and sent them out of the kitchen so I could perform my feat of prestidigitation. (No rabbit and top hat; just red onion, basil, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice.) Voila! They eagerly devoured the sardines and asked for more. Now that's the kind of magic I like to practice.


  1. 4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  2. 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  3. 1 Tbsp. finely diced red onion
  4. 2 tsp. each finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, and mint
  5. 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  7. ⅛ tsp. sea salt
  8. 1 (4.35-ounce) can sardines, packed in water or olive oil


  1. Put the lemon juice, lemon zest, red onion, parsley, basil, mint, olive oil, mustard, and salt in a bowl, and stir to combine. Add the sardines and flake them into chunky pieces with a fork. Stir gently to combine. Taste; you may want to add a pinch of salt or a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
  2. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.