Sardines on toast with sweet onion and pine nut tarator

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

  • 2 thin slices sourdough bread
  • For brushing: extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh sardines, filleted and trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Squeeze of: lemon juice
  • To serve: 1 pickled garlic clove, finely sliced
  • To serve: dill fronds
  •  
  • Sweet onion
  • 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp raisins, soaked for 5 minutes in warm water and halved
  •  
  • Pine nut tarator
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ garlic clove
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
01   To make the sweet onion, place onion, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. The onion should start to wilt and soften somewhat, but still maintain a subtle bite or crunch. Transfer to a stainless-steel bowl, stir in vinegar and cover with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature, then stir in raisins and set aside.
02   For the pine nut tarator, preheat oven to 180C. Spread pine nuts on an oven tray and roast for a few minutes until golden. Allow to cool, then transfer to a chopping board and chop roughly. Using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic with a pinch of salt. Add lemon juice and red wine vinegar, then let garlic “cook” for 5 minutes in the acid before adding chopped pine nuts, parsley, sumac and extra-virgin olive oil. Stir well to incorporate, then set aside.
03   Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan. Cut slices of bread into fingers roughly the same width as a sardine fillet. Grill bread on both sides, then brush with a little extra-virgin olive oil and set aside.
04   Meanwhile, season skin-side of sardine fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan over low heat, add olive oil and gently fry fillets, skin-side down, for about 1 minute until just cooked through. Remove fillets from pan and season with a squeeze of lemon juice.
05   Place a tablespoon of sweet onion on each toast finger and spread it right to the edges. Top with a sardine fillet, skin-side up, followed by a generous teaspoon of pine nut tarator. Scatter with pickled garlic slices and dill and eat immediately.

Note Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell is published by Penguin Lantern ($59.95, hbk). This extract has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.

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