Serves 4 as a starter or light main course
1 orange, finely sliced
12 bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
For the stuffing
1 onion, finely chopped
60ml (4 tbsp) olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 anchovy fillets in oil, soaked in milk for 15 minutes
55g (2 oz) raisons, soaked in hot water and drained
40g (1˝ oz) pine nuts, toasted
37.5 ml (2˝ tbsp) capers, rinsed of salt, vinegar or brine, &chopped
60g (2˝ oz) white breadcrumbs
juice and rind of 1 orange
juice of ˝ lemon
a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Scale the sardines and gut them. Cut the head off each one. Break the back bone at the head end and gently pull it out, taking the bones with it. Wash all the fish well and refrigerate until you're ready to stuff them.
For the stuffing, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 1˝ minutes. Drain the anchovies, chop them, and add them to the pan with all the other stuffing ingredients. Season with pepper - you don't need salt because of the capers and anchovies.
Stuff each sardine, then roll it up, head to tail, and place it in an ovenproof dish big enough to hold all the fish snugly, with the tail sticking up. If you can't be bothered to do this, or you find it difficult, just lay the stuffed fish side-by-side in the dish.
Halve the orange slices and put them and the bay leaves in between the fish. Pour a little extra virgin over everything and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C (350°F) Gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes. The sardines are usually served at room temperature in Sicily, but I prefer them hot.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Diana Henry from her book Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons, published by Mitchell Beazley 2002, ISBN 1-84000-501-7