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The Dietary Benefits of Ceci con Sarde (Chickpeas with Sardines)

A registered dietitian weighs in on the health benefits of combining chickpeas and sardines in a dish we call Ceci con Sarde.

a photo of chickpeas and sardines.

Ceci con Sarde.

Yeah, I got a thing for chickpeas. They are a recurring character in my never-ending love story about Italian food. I could go on and on, but I thought to bring in an expert to attest clinically and buttress my boasts to the benefits of these little legumes.

But before I introduce Appetito's in-house dietitian, let me tell you about the recipe (below) that inspired this inaugural collaboration. I'd been craving Pasta con Sarde, but, actually, really all of the ingredients other than the "pasta" component. This has been the "Summer of Pasta" for me, and I felt like an alternative, so I improvised by replacing the pasta with chickpeas! The result, Ceci con Sarde, not surprisingly, sated my craving for all the delectable ingredients of this classic dish while adding a unique layer of flavor and texture.

Now, you can be the judge of the recipe's quality, but what is not in doubt are the health benefits, and to explain, let's segue to the newest member of the Appetito family of contributors.

Fiorella DiCarlo is a Registered Dietitian (RD, CDN). She was born in Naples and raised near Philadelphia, and she advocates for the Mediterranean diet through her successful media platforms and television appearances. We are thrilled to have her regularly share her expertise here at Appetito, and we thought it would be a good idea to start with chickpeas in general, and this original dish we call Ceci con Sarde in particular.

Welcome to Appetito, Fiorella!

Thank you! It’s so nice to join your wonderful team of contributors.

Why are chickpeas so awesome?

Well, chickpeas are an ancient legume and very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine. They are rich in fiber, iron, protein and minerals. They have a mild, nutty flavor that pairs well with other ingredients.

Why are they so filling?

They leave you feeling full because of their fiber content of 13 grams per cup! This adds in creating a healthy gut and keeps you regular. The protein in the chickpeas also keeps you fuller longer.

Can chickpeas lead to weight loss?

My two favorite tools in weight loss are protein and fiber, particularly in the same meal. Protein is thermogenic macronutrient which means it burns calories to digest and boosts your metabolism. Fiber can aid in weight loss by keeping you full for longer, adding low calorie bulk to a meal and creating a healthy gut. Everything in moderation!

What's your favorite way to prepare chickpeas?

My favorite way to prepare chickpeas is roasted with spices like peperoncino and turmeric and eaten as a healthy snack or in a hummus dip.

Will you try my recipe?

Of course I will! It sounds amazing. It’s a high fiber meal with ingredients that are rich in heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, protein, iron, minerals, and more. Well done!

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Ceci con Sarde (chickpeas with sardines)

Ceci con Sarde (chickpeas with sardines)

Recipe by Andrew Cotto
0.0 from 0 votes


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 tins 2 sardines in olive oil

  • 1 15.5 oz can 1 chickpeas (drained and thoroughly rinsed)

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 black raisins (soaked in red wine vinegar)

  • 3 cloves 3 garlic, minced

  • 1 tbsp 1 fennel pollen (or ground fennel seed)

  • 1 cup 1 yellow onion, minced

  • salt & pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil


  • Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil over medium heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the onions and sauté until translucent (five minutes), stirring every minute.
  • Add the garlic and stir.
  • Before the garlic browns, add the chickpeas.
  • Season the ingredients with salt & pepper to taste. Toss or stir.
  • Once the chickpeas are warmed through (2-3 minutes), add the raisins and two tablespoons of the vinegar.
  • Season evenly with the fennel pollen or fennel seed.
  • Add the sardines and cover for one minute.
  • Plate and swirl with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Buon Appetito!

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