Sardines with blood oranges, rosemary and mashed olives

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Citrus fruits work well with fish. Here, I have paired blood orange with very fresh sardines, salty, briny black olives and just a hint of rosemary. A bit light for a main course, this makes the perfect starter.

250g/8oz small black olives, packed in good-quality olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves only
60ml/21/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
A small pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 blood oranges
12 sardines (ask your fishmonger to fillet them for you. Depending on their size, I usually allow 2 or 3 per person)

Remove the stones from the olives and place them in a pestle and mortar; pound until you get a crushed consistency. Add the garlic and pound a little more. Chop the rosemary leaves roughly, and add. Pour in the olive oil and stir well to combine. Taste and season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Set aside.

Using a sharp knife, slice off either end of the oranges. Sit the cut fruit upright and slice into sections to remove all the skin and pith. Slice into fine rounds and set aside while you cook the sardines.

Pour a very small amount of olive oil into a large non-stick pan and place it over a high flame. Season the sardines and, when the pan is smoking, add the fish, skin-side down. Cook for a minute or so, or until the flesh is no longer translucent. Do not turn the fish.

To serve, lay the orange slices on a plate, spoon over a little of the olive mixture and finish with the sardines. Serve at once while the fish is piping hot.

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