Although originally from the Veneto, this recipe for cooking fresh sardines is in use all around the Mediterranean with slight variations on the basic theme. It makes a substantial antipasto or first course dish.
Remove the heads and guts, then slit the fish open lengthways. Wash and leave to drain very thoroughly. Pat dry with a cloth or kitchen paper.
Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs and garlic. Add a little seasoning and enough oil to make a smooth paste. Fill each fish with some of this paste and push them back into shape.
Oil an ovenproof dish and arrange the fish in a single layer in the dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, dribble a little oil on top and bake in a moderate oven (180°C 350°F, gas mark 4) for about 15–20 minutes. Serve very hot.
© 1995 Valentina Harris. All rights reserved.