Can’t have a food blog named Wild Greens and Sardines without posting a sardine recipe from time to time. I try to space them out (have several other ideas for sardines in the queue), as my affinity for sardines is probably not shared by most. But I just adore everything about these guys. First and foremost, they are delicious (particularly when grilled over charcoal), with the added bonus of being super nutritious, economical, and highly sustainable. Especially enjoy fresh sardines, though will gladly settle for their canned/tinned cousins.
Every once in a while I cross paths with a fellow sardine lover. A few short weeks ago I was sitting in a pinxtos bar in San Sebastian, Spain, when this gentleman started chatting with me. Before long, me (and Patrick) and my new friend, Victor (from Ottawa, Canada, and with Portuguese roots), were hopping from one pinxtos bar to the next. Three or four bars later (and several glasses of wine), the conversation swung around to sardines and I learned that Victor is a sardine connoisseur. In fact, he fishes for sardines at his lakehouse in Canada. Victor shared with great passion, step-by-step instructions for his perfectly grilled sardines, and even invited us to Ottawa, where he offered to grill some up. The next morning I jotted down everything I could remember.
Given my lack of outdoor space (read: no grill), am always thinking about other ways to prepare sardines. Note to Victor, once I get my hands on a grill, will definitely give your sardine preparation a try (can’t wait).
Inspired by the vast array of fish I encountered on a recent trip to France and Spain, decided to stop by my local Spanish (fish) market to see what they had. Lo and behold, they had just taken delivery of some lovely, plump, fresh Portuguese sardines. Totally made my day. Picked up a pound, along with some pimientos de padrons for tonight’s dinner.
So, in lieu of grilled sardines, thought I’d try roasting some in the oven (and finishing them under the broiler), with cherry tomatoes, red onion, garlic, spices/herbs. Quick, easy, and delicious!
Have your fishmonger scale and clean the sardines (decapitate if you so desire).
You can tell that these guys are super fresh — nice and plump, clear eyes, red gills…
Roasted Sardines and Cherry Tomatoes
1 pound of sardines (6-8 sardines depending on their size), scaled and cleaned
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, finely diced
8 ounces of cherry tomatoes, halved
juice and zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
pinch of dried chile flakes
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil the baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Heat a small skillet over high heat. When hot, add the whole cumin seeds to the dry skillet. Shake the pan to keep the seeds moving around until they darken slightly and give off an earthy aroma, about 1 minute. Transfer the seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Grind to a powder.
Season the sardines, the cavity and the skin, with sea salt.
Combine the ground toasted cumin, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, chile flakes, parsley, and garlic in a bowl. Season with a pinch or two of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Stuff the sardines with some of the filling and then place the sardines in the baking dish in a single layer. Sprinkle the remaining mixture around the dish. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes, then place under the broil for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.