You don’t have to put them on skewers, they can be baked side by side, with alternating slices of citrus fruit and bay leaves. Super-fresh sardines work best for this recipe.
In Sicily, sardines are often paired with currants, citrus fruits and pine nuts, giving them sweetness as well as a savoury kick.
- 24 large sardines, filleted and cleaned, tails left intact
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 75 g (2¾ oz) breadcrumbs from day-old bread
- 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 30 g (1 oz) currants, soaked in 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) warm water and drained
- 30 g (1 oz) pine nuts, toasted
- zest and juice of 1 lemon plus 1 lemon, sliced
- 1½ tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 small oranges, halved and sliced
- 8 fresh bay leaves
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.
Resting time: 10 minutes
Pat the sardines dry with kitchen towel and set aside.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and a good pinch of salt. Toast for a few minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the breadcrumbs have taken on a bit of colour. Tip the mixture into a small bowl, then add the drained currants, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest and orange juice and give everything a good stir.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Soak 8 wooden skewers in cold water for 15 minutes.
Prepare your skewers by threading on a slice of orange. Lay a sardine fillet on a clean work surface and place 1 teaspoon of filling at the widest end. The filling may fall out a bit at the sides if you have smaller sardines, but this is OK. Roll up the fillet and thread onto the skewer. Thread a slice of lemon onto the skewer, then add another rolled-up sardine followed by a bay leaf. Add a final rolled sardine and finish with another slice of orange. Transfer to a baking dish and repeat until you have 8 skewers. Drizzle liberally with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Drizzle the skewers with lemon juice and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.