Guest post: “Rice with sardines” by Nuria

Recipe: Rice with Sardines

By Núria Roig
Published: January 14,2008

Summary: This rice dish is not only delicious but very healthy as sardines are oily fish that contain healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Moreover, the combination of rice and fish increases its benefits. This sardine rice is a traditional Catalan rice dish that represents the Mediterranean diet very well. From beyond the French border down through Barcelona and further south, the Catalan fishermen and their families created many simple and health-promoting dishes like this one.


  • 8 to 12 fresh sardines depending on the size
  • 4 cups (1 l) hot water
  • 1¾ cups (400 g) short or round-grain rice is best, but long-grain also works fine
  • 1 cup (250 g) shelled sweet peas (use frozen peas if fresh aren’t available)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig flat parsley
  • 4 threads saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste


  1. Clean and wash the sardines. Remove the head and the bones and season them with some salt.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel, seed and finely chop the tomatoes. (Seeding the tomatoes is optional.) Peel the garlic cloves and mince two of them. Shell the peas.
  3. Add the olive oil to a casserole, and when it’s hot add the onion. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat or until it’s golden. Stir often. Add the 2 cloves of minced garlic, and stir for a few moments. Add the tomato and the sweet peas. (If you are using frozen peas, add them 5 minutes later.)
  4. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring a few times. The tomato juice should evaporate slowly, but the mixture shouldn’t dry up. You can add a little water halfway into the cooking, but only if your tomatoes don’t have a lot of juice and you really feel it’s needed.
  5. In the meantime, make a Catalan picada by adding 2 cloves of garlic, the parsley leaves, saffron and a pinch of salt to a mortar. Crush and pound these ingredients until you get a smooth paste. The best method is to begin with the first ingredient, use the pestle for a few moments, add the second, pound a little bit more, and so on.
  6. Later, dissolve it with 2 or 3 tablespoons of the rice cooking juice. This is the traditional Catalan picada that is added to a myriad Catalan Mediterranean recipes towards the end of the cooking time. It gives a special texture to this rice with sardines that you wouldn’t get without it.
  7. Bring the water to a boil.
  8. When the sofregit or tomato mixture has caramelized, add the rice and the salt. Stir briefly and add the hot water.
  9. When the rice begins to boil, add the picada you just made and stir briefly and gently. Cook uncovered for about 10 minutes. Distribute the sardines over the rice, and cook for 8 more minutes. Your rice with sardines is now ready to be served.

Quick notes

At Mediterranean Diet Aromas Núria Roig helps you explore delicious Mediterranean recipes, undiscovered Catalan cuisine, and the relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle from the inside.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Diet type: Pescatarian

Diet tags: Low calorie, Reduced fat, High protein

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: Spanish

Calories: 250

Fat: 5

Protein: 25

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)