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Sardines with a Sicilian Stuffing

This easy to make stuffing will give you the most delicious sardines you've ever tasted. The quantity given is sufficient for 26-28 sardines, but as it's very cheap to make, it's hardly worth messing around with a smaller quantity.

First prepare the stuffing - this can be done a day ahead (in fact the flavour will improve), then refrigerated. Bring it back to room temperature for half an hour, or so, before using - so that it's manageable.

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- 110g/4oz fresh white breadcrumbs - these are easily made in a food processor (but remove the crusts, as they make reluctant crumbs!
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) good Olive Oil
- 3 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) chopped fresh Parsley
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) peeled and chopped shallots or mild onions
- juice of half a Lemon
- 60g/2oz chopped Capers
- 60g/2oz chopped Black pitted Olives, Sainsbury's own-brand tins are excellent
- 60g/2oz chopped Sultanas
- 60g/2oz chopped Pine Nut kernels
- 4 Anchovy fillets, chopped
- a little Salt and plenty of freshly-ground Black Pepper

Equipment: Food Processor or a big Pestle and Mortar. A heat-proof bowl that neatly fits over a saucepan to form a bain-marie.


1. Fillet the Sardines - this is much easier and less fiddly than you would imagine.

2. Split the Sardines, either head on or decapitated, from head to tail, along their stomachs.

3. Place, cut-side-down, on a plate and gently but firmly push down to butterfly the fish - concentrating any pressure along the backbone.

4. Turn the fish over - the backbone will be loose and can be gently pulled out with the mildest pressure; simply snapping it off just before the head and tail.

The fish is now ready to stuff.

- Prepare the Stuffing - mix all the remaining ingredients together.

- Stuff the fish- in Sicily, this is usually done to headless fish, by spreading the stuffing thinly over the fish and then rolling them up lengthways towards the tail. We prefer the alternative of stuffing in a more normal way, so that they still look like fish.

- They can be prepared a day ahead up to this point and kept cling-wrapped in the fridge.

- The Sicilians then drizzle them with Olive Oil and bake them in a hot oven for about 8 minutes. We simply grill or barbecue them for a few minutes each side.

Serve with plenty of lemon wedges.

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