Sardines stuffed with rocket salad pesto

Not all fish is expensive and some times putting together a delicious and comforting meal is easier than it seems. Take sardines for example, today at the Rialto market I bought more than half a kilo of already deboned sardines for 5 euros. Great!

In my opinion it's better to eat poor but fresh fish rather that frozen prawns and calamari. Poor fish in general can be surprisingly delicious and sardines are the (ex-)living proof of what I'm saying. Consider that a kilo is A LOT of sardines, so you can prepare them in different ways. I always keep a few aside and flour and deep fry them when Vito gets home. In summer, though, I just rinse them, put them on a plate and cover them with a sauce made with half squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and a few drops of water.

Stuffed sardines recipe

Today I was feeling more creative, so I decided to re-interpret a recipe that I learned at Bancogiro -a local restaurant- about 10 years ago, when I worked there for the summer, and this is: stuffed sardines. Andrea, the manager at that time, called them sarde incinta (pregnant sardines...I know, it's quite funny!). I have to be totally honest with you, I don't remember exactly what there was in that filling, it was a more wintery dish (probably with pine nuts, raisins, parsley and breadcrumbs), but anyway, the idea definitely caught my attention.

My version is simpler and more summery, I'm using rocket salad, Parmesan, pistachios, anchovies and lemon. The recipe is really easy to prepare and, if you manage to get your fishmonger to debone the sardines for you, it's also super fast.

Delicious, tasty and light, it's a perfect summer lunch. I hope you like it too.

Stuffed sardines recipe

INGREDIENTS (Serves 2 - generous portion)

12 sardines

200 gr rocket salad

20 gr grated Parmesan

20 finely chopped pistacchio

1 garlic clove

1 fresh chilly

1 lemon

olive oil


1) Rinse sardines and keep aside.

2) Grate the Parmesan and chop the pistachios and the chilly.

3) Wash and dry the rocket salad, pour some oil in a pan, add garlic and chilly and before it starts popping add the salad. Cook for a couple of minutes (2 will do).

4) When ready let cool then put if a mixer and combine with the Parmesan, the chopped pistachios and a pinch of salt. (if you like, use an anchovy instead of the salt). Mix until the filling is creamy (You can also use a hand blender).

5) Preheat oven at 180°.

6) Now grease some parchment paper and place six sardines longwise. Put some rocket salad filling over each sardine and then cover with another sardine.

6) Bake at 180° for about 15 minutes.

7) In the meantime, squeeze half a lemon and combine with a few drops of oil.

8) When the sardine are ready, pour the lemon sauce over the the sardines and garnish with some more chopped pistachios.

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