Lemony 3-Layer Sardine Pate

You’d think you could learn everything about life from cartoons, but you’d be wrong.  To my great disappointment, my cat has no interest in lasagna, pineapples aren’t homes for sponges wearing pants under the sea (not good homes, anyway), and sardines aren’t always pretty little fish that come lying next to one another jammed into a can.

Thanks “Wise Colin” per your blog as written by a fish

My aspirations of getting in trouble from my husband for dangling a dripping sardine over the camera lens as though it were a mouth were dashed when I opened the can and found this:

At least they had removed the heads, so I wouldn’t be forcing people to eat those.  Again. (In case you missed it…).  I picked out all the undelicious looking backbones and got going.

I decided that I would experiment on my “slummy mummy” group once again.  You may remember that I often get together with a few neighborhood moms to let the kids gain experience in babysitting one another while we drink wine and look at pictures of Jon Hamm in tight pants (that was how it worked yesterday, anyway).  Tempted to include a link to the pictures there, but my mom reads this blog and she would be mortified, so you’ll just have to Google it yourself.

Anyway, I had never tried sardines before, even though I know that my grandfather used to eat a whole can of them as a light snack.  I had heard talk that they were healthy, and so I hoped I would love them as I do almost anything else that comes from the sea.  Turns out that the health rumours were true – although they’re high in cholesterol and sodium, they eat mostly plankton, so they’re low in mercury while still being high in Omega 3s, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Selenium. Didn’t exactly love them, though.

I found this recipe for sardine pate and decided to try it rather than daring the mummies to eat whole fish as though we were doing some weird goldfish swallowing contest.  I prepared it as written, although I substituted lemon pepper for Aleppo pepper because I didn’t know what the latter was and when I found out it was too late to buy it.  Here are the very quick and easy directions:

Lemony Sardine Pate (makes 1 Cup)

  • 2 cans sardines in oil
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tsp lemon pepper
  • 2 Tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:  Put all ingredients including the sardines and their oil in a food processor.  Blend until smooth.


I’ve said it before about other recipes and I’ll say it again.  Meh.  The slummies were polite about it, and one said she really liked it because she’s a big fan of savory, but I thought it needed something more.  It just tasted like lemony pureed tuna fish to me, and I’m not even a big fan of canned tuna.  I also had to put it in the fridge after a few minutes because it smelled too fishy.  One mom who is a great cook suggested I could take it to another level by taming it into a layered dip, so I saved the leftovers and kicked it up a notch today by roasting a red pepper on the barbeque and adding some cream cheese.

Revised results: 

Much better.  That Jackie knows what she’s doing for sure.  The cream cheese gave the pate a richer flavour and the peppers made it more interesting, not to mention that it was a whole lot prettier.  Rating:  1 gag for the lemony sardine pate on its own, revised to 1 yum as a layered dip.  Still not fantastic to me, but if you already know you like sardines you may just love this easy recipe.

Wine Pairing:  A wine pairing is especially relevant for this recipe, considering the fact that we were sampling some as we were eating it.  We were drinking this…

 …which is very respectably rated on winealign.com (and tasty and reasonable at only $10.95 in Ontario).

Bonus weird food item:  Found this while Googling for sardine photos.  I was excited thinking there may be someone out there who likes strange foods as much as I do, but was disappointed when one of the blog comments tipped me off to what was going on.  Still love it, though.  Thanks, “Cupcakes take the cake.”


  1. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    September 20, 2012

    Love it! Shooter sized portions may be just the perfect amount too

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      September 20, 2012

      It may not look it, but it’s mini Mason jar sized. Maybe about 3 shots worth for “regular” people. 🙂 Thanks for your creative direction on this one!

  2. Leave a Reply

    September 24, 2012

    That was awesome, especially the sharing of the convo about Jon Hamm’s mid section. I don’t know your mom but she does have breasts and a heart beat, she would probably appreciate the picture. Haha.

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      September 24, 2012

      Ha! I’ll be sure to ask her what she thinks across the table at our next big family shindig. 🙂 Thanks for being a taste tester!

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