Baked Stuffed Sardines
Baked stuffed sardines is the best dish for those who want to taste sardines and they don’t know where to start. The vegetable stuffing grounds the bold fishy flavor so sardines aren’t too overwhelming. Serve as an appetizer, main, or side dish.
- 1 pound (500g) fresh sardines, preferably cleaned OR
- 5 cans (about 4 ounces/100g each), sardines in water or olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 big tomato or two small
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 spring onions, the white part, finely chopped
- Parsley, finely chopped (optional)
FOR THE DRESSING
- 1/2 cup (100g) olive oil
- 1 lemon, the juice and zest
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Red chili pepper flakes
- Lemon juice or slices (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Remove the skin from the tomato (optional). See below how to do it easily*. Quarter it and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Dice finely the flesh and place it in a colander to drain from excess water (keep the tomato juices for later use).
In a small bowl, add the garlic, the spring onion, the bell pepper, parsley (optional) and the tomato. Season with salt and pepper and use a small spoon to mix well.
In a small bowl add the lemon juice, zest, red chili pepper flakes and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Clean the sardines (or ideally purchase them already cleaned). Remove intestines, head, and backbone and butterfly them. Spread the butterflied fish on a plate, skin-side down. Drizzle some olive oil and use a brush (or your hands) to gently coat them. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Use a spoon and scoop the vegetable filling over the bottom layer sardines. Cover with its other half. Choose equally sized sardines so that the filling will be better enclosed.
Pour the lemon-olive oil dressing over the sardines and bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula (or just a fork) and carefully turn over for another 10 minutes.
How to easily remove tomato skin
Make an X on the bottom of the tomato and throw it into a small pot with boiling water for a minute. Immediately plunge it into a bowl of cold water for a few seconds. Peel back the skin with a knife or your fingers.