Sardines, courgettes and pepper
- September 2005
- 12 fresh sardines, scaled and filleted
- 4 tbsp flour, seasoned with a pinch of salt
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 dried chilli, deseeded and sliced (optional)
- 2 yellow peppers, deseeded and diced
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 small or medium courgettes, sliced
For the dressing
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Small handful of fresh, small basil, oregano, marjoram or mint leaves
- Dust the sardine fillets in the flour. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide frying pan and, when it’s just smoking, fry half the sardines for no longer than 1 minute on either side. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Add another 2 tablespoons oil and fry the remaining sardines the same way. Set aside with the others.
- Heat the rest of the oil. Add the garlic and chilli, if using, and reduce the heat. Add the peppers, stir in the salt and cook gently until the peppers are soft and starting to brown. This may take 15 minutes, so watch them. Once soft, add the courgettes and cook until soft and starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, make a dressing with the lemon juice, oil and herbs. Take the cooked vegetables off the heat and mix with the dressing. To serve, lay the fish on a large plate and scatter the vegetables over them. Bulk it up with olives, anchovies or capers for a real Mediterranean feast.
Rub the scales off with your fingers under a running tap. Gut the fish the same way, then lay them flat, belly up. Starting from the tail end, gently prise the sides away from the backbone. When you get to the head, one swift pull of the spine will remove both bones and head.
You can serve this warm or make it in advance and dish it up as a salad.
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