Sarde a Beccafico (Stuffed Sardines)

Apart from the fennel balls, I prepared another antipasto for my Sicilian dinner: Sarde a Beccafico. We really liked this dish when we had it at Tischi Toschi, and I copied the presentation from there. Sarde a Beccafico can be served either as antipasto or as secondo (main course). Sardines are stuffed with bread crumbs, raisins, anchovies, parsley, pine nuts, sugar, and baked in the oven with some orange juice. This dish is very tasty and easy to prepare if you ask the fishmonger to turn the sardines into fillets for you.

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They can be served warm or at room temperature. It won’t come as a surprise that the most important aspect is the freshness of the sardines. I’ve based my version mostly on Giallo Zafferano.

Ingredients

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For 4 servings as antipasto or 2 servings as secondo

12 sardine fillets

25 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) raisins, soaked in warm water and drained

25 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) pine nuts

1 tsp sugar

2 anchovies, minced

50 grams (1/4 cup) bread crumbs

1/2 Tbsp minced flat leaf parsley

juice of 1/2 orange

orange and lemon slices for garnish

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

bay leaves

Preparation

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Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add breadcrumbs and anchovies.

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Sauté over medium heat, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Allow to cool.

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Wash the sardine fillets with cold running water and pat them dry with paper towels.

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Combine the toasted bread crumbs with the raisins, pine nuts, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper.

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Stir to mix.

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Preheat the oven to 200C/390F. Oil an oven dish.

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Arrange the sardines with the inside up.

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Spread out the bread crumb mixture on the sardines.

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Roll up the sardines and arrange them in the oven dish. Some of the filling will fall out, use that to sprinkle over the sardines at the end. Push bay leaves between the sardines.

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Sprinkle with orange juice.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 200C/390F or until the sardines are just cooked through.

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Allow to cool at least a little (or all the way to room temperature) before serving. Serve with lemon and orange slices.

Wine pairing

A dry Sicilian white would be traditional for this, but we enjoyed it with a riesling from Alto Adige. Riesling goes very well with citrus fruit, and the minerality of a riesling from Alto Adige makes it go well with the sardines and anchovies.

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