Sardines on Toast

I visited Lisbon recently, the first time I’ve been to Portugal. It was enchanting. Unspoiled, beautiful architecture, lovely people. Great food!

Every restaurant had menus in the windows or simple pieces of paper on the door selling Sardinha, sardines. We tried them enthusiastically. They were delicious, the flesh was moist, rich and oily but the dark crisp charred skin with lots of lemon juice added a perfect balance.

You don’t have to go to Portugal! Sardines are being fished off our own shores more and more. They are sustainable, good for us and great value! What’s not to like?


3-4 fresh sardines per person, depending on size

Extra virgin olive oil

Sprigs of fresh herbs; lemon thyme, sorrel and oregano

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Sweet paprika

2 unwaxed lemons

4 handfuls ripe tomatoes, cut into eighths

Half red onion, sliced finely

2 tablespoons capers in vinegar or caper berries

2 tablespoons stoned black olives

Fresh mint and flat leaf parsley

Red wine vinegar

Pre-heat oven 200C/gas 6

Wash the sardines inside and out under plenty of cold water.

Pat dry on kitchen paper

Using a sharp knife score the skin of each sardine 3 or 4 times on each side.

Rub inside with plenty of sea salt and ground pepper and stuff each one with the mixture of fresh herbs.

Drizzle a little oil on a heavy bottomed roasting tin and lay the sardines side by side, leaving enough space so they don’t touch each other.

Drizzle a little extra oil , sprinkle with the sweet paprika and wedge pieces of lemon juice between the fish.

Roast for 15-20 minutes until the skin is blackened and crispy.

Serve with a salsa by mixing the tomatoes with the red onions slices, capers and black olives. Add a good handful of chopped mint and parsley and a teaspoon or so of red wine vinegar. Season to taste.


So that sounds good, but you can’t be bothered with the smell in the house.

You hate oily fish. You don’t like the bones. For you my friend, I recommend sardines on toast!

2 tins sardines preserved in olive oil, Spanish or Portuguese are best.

4 slices thick wholemeal bread

Unsalted butter

Unwaxed Lemons

Toast the bread.

Slather it with lots of butter.

Open the tins.

Press 2 sardines on each slice of bread with the back of a fork, squash them down to break up the flesh.

Squeeze over lots of lemon juice and a generous grating black pepper.

Make the easy salsa as above and enjoy in front of the telly.