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For me, the end of August and the beginning of September is about soaking up the last of the summer sun, enjoying the last few lunches outside where rosé wine is preferable to red, and using up the glut of tomatoes that arrives in the kitchen around about now. The last time I was up visiting our other office in the House of Commons I had lunch at The Adjournment, the House of Commons restaurant located in Portcullis House (that big glass one across the road from Big Ben) with one of my colleagues to celebrate her retirement. For our starter we had an utterly delicious Sardine Bruschetta, finished off with a delicate tangle of pea shoots.
So, when I spied some beautifully filleted Cornish sardines in Sainsbury’s the other day (when I can’t make it to an actual fish counter, I swear by their packaged fresh fish offerings), my mind instantly jumped to that utterly delicious dish to re-create. Make this for a lazy weekend lunch for a couple of you, or an outdoor starter making the most of the days when we can still sit outside. I’ve made it so that it can serve 4 people, because that easily uses up 2 packets of fish (8 filleted sardines), 1 ciabatta loaf and one red onion, but it is easily scalable if you don’t mind leftover bread (I never do!) and you freeze any leftover fish from the pack.
Another ingredient note: while I have religiously been watching Nigella for years, I have only recently become a convert to garlic infused oils for cooking. I ran out of garlic a couple of months ago while my parents were in France, and I did not want to buy any more as I knew they would be back with loads. So, I started using garlic infused rapeseed oil to cook my soffrittos, and it actually worked beautifully. No smelly fingers from peeling the bulbs, and in dishes where you are only using a clove or two, I promise you that you won’t tell the difference. Here I’ve used my current favourite garlic oil for summer, Pomora’s Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil. However, if you don’t have any garlic infused extra virgin to hand (it needs to be extra virgin here, and yes I understand that this recipe includes three different types of olive oil and that might be a bit much for some people!), feel free to follow my garlic bruschetta directions which you can find here.
This easy Sardine and Pea Shoot Bruschetta is perfect enjoyed over a summer lunchtime with a chilled bottle of rose wine.
1 Ready To Bake Ciabatta Loaf
1 Small Red Onion
4 Large Ripe Tomatoes
Small Handful Fresh Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil (see note)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Light Olive Oil
8 Filleted Sardines
Pre-heat the oven and bake the ciabatta as per the packets instructions. At the same time, fire up the grill to 200 degrees (390 F).
Meanwhile, make the bruschetta topping by finely chopping the red onion, roughly chopping the tomatoes and roughly tearing the basil, combining all three with sea salt to taste and just a dash of extra virgin olive oil.
Once you’ve removed the ciabatta from the oven and it is cool enough to touch, split it lengthways down the middle, and half each piece.
Brush the inside half of each piece generously with garlic infused extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Place on a baking tray under the grill to toast for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, because actual toasting time will depend on your bread and the oil.
While the bread is toasting, fry your sardines. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a high heat with a dash of light olive oil.
Once the oil is shimmering, fry the sardines in batches (about 3-4 in the pan at once), skin side down for a about 3 minutes until the skin is crisp, then turn them over for another 2 minutes until cooked through.
Rest the sardines on a warm plate lined with kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil while batch cooking.
To assemble the bruschetta, spoon the tomato topping between the pieces of toasted of ciabatta, and top each one with two sardines, skin side up.
Finish each plate with a tangle of pea shoots, and serve straight away with a chilled bottle of wine served up in small, French lunchtime style glasses.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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One Pan Pescatarian: 100 Delicious Dinners – Veggie, Vegan, Fish
My second cookbook contains 100 delicious dinner recipes, all of which are either vegetarian, vegan or which celebrate fish and seafood - all cooked in either one pot or one pan.*