Grilled (or chargrilled) sardines are very popular at home, especially in summer time. It is also common to grill the sardines wrapped in vine leaves – the tangy taste of vine leaves work well with the distinctive flavor of sardines (You can buy preserved vine leaves in jars in supermarkets or Middle Eastern / Mediterranean stores).
I like to grill sardines with cherry tomatoes and bell peppers; their juicy, sweet flavor complements the strong taste of sardines well. Make sure to serve the sardines with wedges of lemon to squeeze over and perhaps with some boiled new potatoes for a complete meal.
Serves 4 – 5
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
250gr/10oz sardines (12 pieces), scaled, gutted and washed
1 green, red or yellow bell pepper (or mixture), cut in half and sliced in long strips
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of 1/2 lemon
12 preserved vine leaves
30 ml/2tablespoon olive oil
5ml/1teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Wedges of lemon to serve
Handful of fresh dill, coarsely chopped to decorate
Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the bell peppers for 3-4 minutes. Toss the tomatoes into the pan and mix them well. Season with salt and pepper, and add the red pepper flakes. Combine well and turn the heat off.
Spread the vine leaves out on a flat surface and place a sardine on each leaf. Wrap each sardine loosely in the leaf like a cigar. Brush each leaf with a little olive oil and place seam side down.
Place the sardines on a baking tray. Spread the tomato and bell pepper mixture amongst the sardines. Squeeze half a lemon over the mixture.
Preheat the grill on a moderate heat. Place the tray under the grill for about 14 minutes, turning over every 2 minutes, until the vine leaves are charred. Once cooked, sprinkle the fresh dill all over and serve hot, with wedges of lemon by the side.