250g cherry tomatoes, on the vine if possible
2 red peppers, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you don’t want it too spicy)
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp capers
2 ½ tbsp olive oil
8 sardines, butterflied
50g flaked almonds, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Handful of basil leaves, lightly chopped
Ingredients for the Salad
Drizzle olive oil
Juice of the lemon
Preheat the oven to 180c
Arrange the pepper slices, cherry tomatoes (still on their stalks if you can find them), chilli, paprika and capers in a baking tray and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and bake for 15 mins
Meanwhile lay the sardine butterflies skin down on a chopping board, combine the chopped almonds and lemon zest and place some of the mixture on each sardine.
Season with black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and fold the sardine over and tuck the almond/lemon stuffing inside
When the veg has roasted for 15 minutes, place the sardine fillets on the top, scatter any remaining almond and lemon zest mixture that fell out over the top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes
Meanwhile for the salad: rinse the samphire and blanch - add to boiling water for 1 minutes, then plunge in iced water - this helps make the samphire tender and removes some of the salt. Combine with the watercress and dress with the juice of the lemon and little olive oil - black pepper if you like but no need for salt.
When done, sprinkle with the basil and serve with the watercress & samphire salad and some sourdough to mop up all those delicious juices.
This is perfect for a sizzling summer day when you can’t be bothered to fire up, or don’t have, a BBQ.
Sardines a veritable powerhouse of nutrients - I asked the fishmonger to butterfly the sardines which is a great help, all the guts, backbone and large bones are removed and you can still stuff them. The tiny bones that remain are a great source of calcium AND all the other nutrients such as magnesium, boron needed for bone health and the flesh is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, selenium and protein. If you don’t like bony fish then mackerel fillets would work well instead.
Samphire is also known as sea asparagus and is a member of the parsley family. Marsh samphire is the most commonly eaten and it goes well with fish dishes like this. Samphire is full of fibre for gut health and your gut microbiome, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, is a good source of minerals such as iron and calcium. If you can’t get hold of samphire then asparagus would work well or any other green salad leaf like endive, rocket or baby spinach.