Real recovery food that’s prepped and ready in under ten minutes. That’s the challenge I’ve set myself. To create some recipes for a proper meal, using real food, with all of the nutritional requirements for recovery after a tough session on the bike.

In this recipe you can swap out the rice for Pasta or the sardines for tuna (or any tinned fish but sardines are the best of the lot). Also the Tilda packaged rice I used in this recipe is delicious, cooks in no time, and also contains the super-crop Quinoa.

The point is: stuff you’ve got in the cupboard is just as nutritionally effective for recovery as those horrible tasting drinks and mixes.

But it tastes oh-so-much-better

Let’s talk Sardines. At just 196 kcal and packed with 20g of protein per tin, they are a near perfect recovery food. They’re nutritionally better than tuna or salmon and full of protein and Omega 3. Both of which are vital for recovery and general health. So what’s their downfall? Well… they aren’t exactly the most appetising of fish, are they?

With a little help they can be delicious. The trick is to turn the Sardines into a rich tomato sauce. I love to mix mine with wholewheat pasta (Penne works well, rice, or quinoa.

The best part is the sauce can be made with whatever you have to hand. A few basic ingredients are tried and true so use those if you can as they will greatly enhance the flavour of the dish.

In order to make this a quick meal I’ve used rice that cooks quickly. That said, the Tilda Wholegran Basmati And Quinoa I use in this recipe tastes great and is packed full of goodness. The same goes for pasta. It might not be the best stuff but most packaged brown pasta will be cooked in around 10minutes.

Prep-to-plate time: 09:07.33


Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 Tin of Sardines in olive oil
  • ~1 level tsp Paprika
  • ~1 level tsp Cumin
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 a carton of tomato passata
  • (~100-120g Pasta) or (~125g Rice) or (~125g Quinoa)

Optional: but will improve sauce —

  • A few shakes of Worcester sauce to taste
  • A few shakes of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 knife-end of cayenne pepper /li>
  • 1 Fresh Red Chili finely chopped
  • 1 Garlic
  • Juice and Zest of 1/2 a lemon


  1. Get the pan on a fairly low heat. Part open to tin of sardines and pour the oil into the pan. Add your spices (paprika, cumin, cayenne) and let them get to know each other. Give everything a good shake and stir.
  2. Chop your garlic and pepper, pop them in the pan along with the rice (if using). Another good shake, get the rice covered in the spicy, garlicy oil and cook for a minute or so.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and season with salt, pepper, and any other condiment to hand. Stir.
  4. Add the sardines and mush and mash them up until they no longer exist. Just keep breaking them down until it’s just sauce. Then add some fresh basil if you’ve got it.
  5. At this point you’re as good as finished. Probably about 8minutes in. I added some babyleaf salad and kept reducing the sauce until it had wilted. I stopped the clock at 09:07.33 and served.

This is a nice base recipe. If you’ve got more time some nice crusty bread on the side is great for soaking up that sauce afterwards, and some extra veggies could go well on the side.