Features, Cooking Column, Homemade On The Heights

Homemade on the Heights: Pan-Fried Pantry Sardine Bowl

I recently returned from a trip to Lisbon, Portugal, and if there’s one thing I learned while there, it’s that the Portuguese love sardines.

I can’t blame them. Sardines, or sardinhas, are a small yet versatile fish. You can have them deep-fried, canned, grilled—or pan-fried atop a mixture of rice, olives, nuts, and mustard.

This dish, the pan-fried pantry sardine bowl, takes inspiration from the Lisboeta food scene and adapts it to common pantry ingredients. It features seared sardines and a sunny-side up egg over an ensemble of easy-to-grab ingredients.

You can alter this dish to any kind of canned fish, as the accompanying ingredients match perfectly with most types of seafood. The bright, tangy flavors of dijon and olives balance the fattiness of the fish, nuts, and egg. To lift the heavy ingredients, the lemon juice and dill brighten the dish up

This dish pairs well with a cold white wine or a light-bodied red—perhaps even a Portuguese wine. Saúde!


Pan-Fried Pantry Sardine Bowl


2 canned sardines

1 egg

1 cup of cooked brown rice

6-8 kalamata olives

¼ cup walnuts

1 tablespoon of dijon mustard

A few sprigs of dill

Herbes de Provence

Extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice


  1. Set a pan over medium-high heat, and roughly chop the walnuts. Put the walnuts into the pan and lightly toast them, intermittently shaking the pan to ensure they are evenly browned. Once aromatic, take them off of the heat and set aside.
  2. Pat the sardines with a paper towel to remove the excess oil. Drizzle a thin layer of oil into the pan, and gently lay down the sardines. Flip them over once lightly seared.
  3. While the sardines cook, slice the olives into halves. Then, roughly remove the dill leaves from the stems and lightly chop.
  4. Add the walnuts, olives, dill, rice, and dijon to a bowl. Stir and add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, herbes de Provence, salt, and pepper to taste. Feel free to add more dijon to your liking (I almost always end up adding more than 1 tbsp, but I recommend starting there because of dijon’s strong, sharp flavor).
  5. After both sides of the sardines are cooked, take them off of the heat and place them on top of the rice mixture. Crack an egg into the pan and cook it sunny-side up.
  6. Once the egg is cooked, place it beside the sardines.
  7. Crack some fresh black pepper over the egg and sprinkle a few flakes of salt.
  8. Serve, and enjoy!
March 23, 2024