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Venezia: Food and Dreams
by Tessa Kiros
Sarde in forno

Use small sardines for this recipe. You can add any other herbs or spices you like here. This dish is also lovely at room temperature, which makes it perfect to prepare in advance.
Serves 4 to 6



• 15 to 18 whole sardines (about 18 oz)
• 5 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 to 2 bay leaves
• 4 tablespoons dry bread crumbs, or 5 tablespoons fresh
• 3 heaped tablespoons chopped parsley
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon finely grated
• lemon zest
• 1/4 cup white wine


Preheat the oven to 400°F. To fillet the sardines, cut off the heads, then make a slit down the side of each fish & remove the guts. Open out each sardine flat, making sure it is still hinged together at the tail, & place all of them skin side up on a chopping board. Press each sardine lightly, yet firmly, to open out. Turn each one over & pull out the backbone. Cut off the tail.

Choose an oven dish that will fit the sardines compactly in a single layer (but don't put them in the dish yet). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil into the dish & put the bay leaves on the bottom.

In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, & remaining oil, & season with salt & pepper. Mix well. Pat the sardines in the crumbs on both sides firmly but gently to coat well. Lay the sardines in the oven dish. Scatter the lemon zest over the top, then pour in the wine & roast for about 20 minutes, until the sardines are golden & crusty.

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