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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sicilian Stuffed Sardines - Sarde Beccafico

To accompany the stuffed calamari as an all time winner of my favorite meal I discover in Italy was this other Sicilian dish, Stuffed Sardines.  I can't say whether I liked the calamari or the sardines best, but what I can say is that being able to have both on the same plat for the same meal is a real treat.  I did the best I could to recreate the experience.  The stuffed sardines have a bit of sweetness happening with the raisins and pine nuts.  It's a lovely dish I had much pleasure tasting, analyzing, researching, and recreating.  The best part of hosting an Italian dinner is doing something spectacular without fillers such as pasta!
Adapted from CookingwithNonna
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal
10-12  large sardines, gutted and butterflied (central bone, head, and tail removed)
drizzle olive oil
1 onion, sliced into moons
2 1/2 Tbsp raisins
2 1/2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
50g (1.7oz) breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
few grinds black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
juice from 1/2 lime
1.  Mix all the stuffing ingredients together.
2.  To stuff, lay a sardine flat on its skin.  Place 1 1/2 tsp stuffing on the narrow side and roll it up.  Do this with all the sardines and fit them in a pan with slices of onion between them to keep them rolled up.
3.  Sprinkle the rest of the stuffing on top along with a drizzle of olive oil.
4.  Bake at 180°C 355°F for 20 minutes.  I ended up adding halved cherry tomatoes into the pan.
Serve as an appetizer or as a meal along with other items.
I served mine with Calamari Ripieni and Eggplant Parmigiana over some Arugula.
This is the best Italian meal I've ever put together in my life.  It was preceded by some Nocellara del Belice olives and succeeded by Tiramisu with Grappa.  It also brought back some happy memories of my trip with the family..
The original dish I was trying to recreate is pictured here:
I couldn't find any blood oranges because they're apparently not in season, but I'm very pleased with my recreation of the dish!  I will definitely be doing this again.  The longest part is butterflying the sardines, but since you can buy them already butterflied, this dish could take no time at all to prepare and only 20 minutes to cook.  
And it didn't make the house smell of fish, strangely.  I would never do stove top sardines inside, but baked sardines work great for indoors!

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