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Cookbook author Giulia Biviano shares this very popular way to enjoy sardines. This recipe is traditionally loved by the people of the Eolie Islands, near Sicily. If you find really fresh sardines, the taste of this recipe will be unforgettable.






Skill level

Average: 4.4 (7 votes)


  • 1 kg fresh medium size sardines
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, plus extra oil to shallow fry
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pine nuts or pistachios nuts
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • bacon slices, to wrap around the sardines
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Butterfly the sardines by pressing your fingers on either side of the back bone and gently easing it away from the flesh, following the line of the bone.

Remove the bone, leaving the tail attached to the flesh. Rinse the fish and drain on paper towel. Place in the refrigerator until needed.

To prepare the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion, fennel and pine nuts. Cook over medium heat until soft and light brown. Stirring frequently, add the garlic, breadcrumbs, parmesan and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook the mixture for a few more minutes. If the mixture is getting too dry add more oil. Add one egg and stir to combine.

Place sardines skin-side down and spread a teaspoon of the stuffing on one side. Fold over to encase. Carefully wrap a small slice of bacon around the sardine and secure with a tooth pick. Repeat with the remaining sardines, stuffing and bacon.

In a large frying pan, add the extra olive oil over medium-high. Fry the stuffed sardines for 3 minutes each side until golden.

Remove from the pan and place on paper towels to dry. Serve with lemon wedges.