Bill Granger recipe: Pan-fried sardines, cauliflower and fennel salad

Serves 4

This is inspired by Sicily, where fennel, pine nuts and capers seem to be compulsory at every meal. The dill replaces the wild fennel so often found in Sicilian dishes.

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
½ tsp caster sugar
1 shallot, very finely diced
1 bulb fennel, tough outer leaves and base of core removed, fronds reserved
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 stalks celery
Handful sultanas
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
Pinch sea salt
6-8 sardines (depending on size), filleted (get your fishmonger to do this)
Handful pine nuts, toasted
Small bunch dill, roughly chopped
Small handful caperberries

To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, white-wine vinegar and sugar in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add the shallots and allow to stand while you prepare the vegetables.

Use a mandolin to thinly slice the fennel, cauliflower florets and celery, then lay them out on a big serving plate and scatter over the sultanas. Drizzle over the dressing, toss to coat and allow to stand for 20 minutes for all the flavours to come together.

Pound the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and salt with a pestle and mortar. Pat the sardines dry with kitchen towel and sprinkle with the chilli-fennel salt.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, add a splash of olive oil then cook the sardine fillets skin-side down for 1 minute or until golden, then turn off the heat, flip the fillets over and allow the heat of the pan to finish cooking them.

Layer the sardines with the fennel and cauliflower then scatter with the pine nuts, dill and fennel fronds. Serve with caperberries and an extra drizzle of olive oil if you fancy.

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