Sardines are plentiful in southern Italy, where you will find them marinated, fried, baked and grilled. Here, stuffed with tuna, seasoned with lemon and served over arugula, they make an especially appetizing main dish.
Tuna-Stuffed Grilled Sardines
4 oz. (125 g) wild or baby arugula
1 large fennel bulb, cored and cut crosswise into thin slices
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
8 large whole sardines, scales, guts and backbones removed by the fishmonger
1 can (2.8 oz/85 g) imported Italian tuna in olive oil, drained but oil reserved
2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. capers, drained and finely chopped
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon slices for serving
Prepare a hot fire in a grill.
In a bowl, toss the arugula and fennel with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Arrange the arugula and fennel on a serving platter.
Rinse the sardines inside and out and carefully pat them dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the tuna, parsley and capers. Spoon a little of the tuna mixture into the cavity of each sardine. Close the sardines around the filling and secure them with toothpicks. Brush them with a little of the reserved oil from the can and sprinkle with salt.
Arrange the sardines carefully on the grill grate and cook until charred and nicely grill marked on the
bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, gently turn the sardines and grill until charred on the second side and the flesh is opaque throughout, about 3 minutes longer.
Transfer the sardines to the bed of arugula and fennel and drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and some pepper. Add the lemon slices to the platter and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Find more recipes like this one in our enticing collection of authentic dishes made modern, Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti.