This recipe for roasted sardines from Jamie Oliver reminds me of holidays in the Algarve. On the quayside in Portimao, you can buy grilled sardines straight from the fishing boats that caught them.
Served in a fresh crusty roll, or just held by the head and the flesh removed in a single motion with your teeth, they are wonderful.
The citizens of Portimao value the sardine so much, they have an annual sardine festival.
As with any fish recipe, the fresher the fish the better. Fresh sardines have much firmer flesh and are far less likely to fall apart on the grill. Sardines in the UK, are often sold as pilchards, which are a protected brand sourced from Cornwall.
Roasted Sardines with Pitta Bread and Salad
- 6 Big sardines
- 1 tsp Fennel seeds
- 1 Red chilli finely sliced
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 20 g Fresh parsley
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Lemon halved
- 6 Pitta breads
- 1 bag Mixed salad leaves of your choice
- 1 Pomegranate halved
- 100 g Flaked Almonds
For the Sardines:
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C. Take a big roasting tray and place your cleaned sardines in it. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the fennel seeds.
- Place the sliced chillies and crushed garlic on top.
- Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and spread the chopped parsley over the fish. Put the squeezed lemon half in the tray. Finally, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- With your hands, gently turn the fish and other ingredients over a couple of times to coat, making sure some of the oil and parsley gets into the body cavities.
- Roast in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. They are ready when the skin is crispy and golden.
For the Pitta Breads:
- Take each pitta bread and sprinkle some cold water over it, shaking off any excess.
- Place on an oven shelf below the roasting tin for the last 2 minutes of cooking time.
- Remove and make each pitta into a pocket by opening along one side and gently prising apart.
For the Salad:
- Heat a dry frying pan and add the flaked almonds. Toast for a couple of minutes, remove and set aside.
- While the almonds are toasting, put the mixed salad in a serving bowl, take one half of the pomegranate and with a large wooden spoon knock the seeds out of the fruit body over the salad leaves. Remove any white bits of the pomegranate flesh which may come out.
- Sprinkle over the toasted almond flakes.
For the Salad Dressing:
- Squeeze the juice from the remaining pomegranate half into a mixing bowl and add three times as much olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Stir well until thoroughly mixed.