Rosemary Lemon Roasted Sardines
In this recipe we are using sardines, although you can use fresh smelts or anchovies if you prefer. The sardines need to be fresh and cleaned. To clean them, cut off their heads with kitchen shears or a big, heavy kitchen knife. Slice the fish open along the belly, then remove and discard the innards. Discard the backbone and snip the fins off, then rinse them, drain them and they are ready to use. Alternatively you can buy ready-cleaned ones or else ask the fishmonger to do it for you.
The sardines are arranged in a lightly greased ovenproof dish and then you can add olive oil, lemon slices, rosemary sprigs, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Throw in some halved black olives if you want. Feel free to omit the breadcrumbs if you do not want a crunchy topping, or to swap the rosemary for basil (added at the end though, because basil wilts). The fish will take about 15 minutes to cook through but do keep an eye on them because it depends on your oven. Some ovens seem to cook faster.
The sardines can be served hot from the oven or warm, preferably with some kind of crusty bread on the side because there will be plenty of mouthwatering juices to mop up. Add a green salad and you have all the makings of a complete meal, except perhaps the glass of perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio which would go so nicely with this dish. A lot of people usually make the same fish dishes each time they are in the mood for fish, but try this one for a potential brand new family favorite.
- 1½ lbs fresh sardines
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup plain fine dry breadcrumbs
- 8 thin lemon slices
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 4 halved, pitted black olives (optional)
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and put the rack in the center of the oven.
- Lightly grease a baking dish.
- Arrange the sardines in the dish and grind over some salt and black pepper.
- Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and top with the lemon and rosemary.
- Add some olives if liked.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the sardines are cooked through.
Roasted sardines make a change from the usual cod, tuna and salmon dishes, and this one boasts lemon and rosemary, two favorite Italian flavors. You can expect the sardines to get nice and crispy in the oven. Add some black olives if you like, and consider adding tomato slices or another colorful garnish just before serving or during the final 5 minutes in the oven. Served with crusty bread to mop up the lemony juices. This recipe makes a change of pace from pizza or pasta, while maintaining the true feel of Italian cuisine at its finest. Try smelts or anchovies in place of the sardines if you like.
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