I've cooked my way through all 264 recipes
in The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook!

June 7, 2011

Sardines in a Fennel-Spiked Tomato Sauce (p. 379)

This recipe calls for "impeccably fresh sardines," but I could only find impeccably frozen ones, so I worked with what I had. Also, my only experience with sardines was when my dad and I used to share tinned ones when I was really little. It's probably been over 20 years since I've eaten them, and I was definitely a little nervous about this cooking venture.

The recipe is pretty easy -- it starts with a simple sauce made of onion (sauteed in olive oil), chopped tomatoes with some of their juices, fennel seeds, orange zest, and salt and pepper. Line the bottom of an oven-proof dish with this.

Next up are the sardines.

Mine were, unfortunately, not dressed, so I got the pleasure of slicing them down the belly, removing the entrails (this is as gross as it sounds) and spine, and rinsing them down.

Butterfly the fish and lay them in the sauce, scattering bread crumbs and more cracked fennel across the top, and then pouring in white wine. Dollop the rest of the sauce on top of the fish and cook for twenty minutes.

Around this time my house began to reek of fish. Truly reek. Sardines have a very very strong odor.

I've gotta say, I did not love this at all. The flavor of the sardines isn't quite my style, and even though I had picked over the pieces very carefully, there were a ton of bones to gently eat around. Glad I tried it, but I won't do this one again.

tomatoes -- $.99
orange -- $1.29 (only used for the zest, I'll eat it with my lunch tomorrow)
sardines -- $8.98
Total Cost of Sardines in a Fennel-Spiked Tomato Sauce: $11.26
($1.88 per serving)


  1. Eeep pretty much everything about this dish horrifies me, which is also exactly how I remember reacting to your father eating sardines out of tins. Apparently my taste buds haven't developed much!

  2. Yup, not the best. Poor sardines, they have a hard life.

  3. I can't imagine doing this-- you are such a fearless cook! I guess it's good you're not currently suffering from morning sickness?

    Once you've finished all the recipes you should have a party and make your top 3 or 4 dishes from the book. And blog about it.

  4. Yeah, when I was gutting those fish I was very very grateful that I don't have a weak stomach, especially now.

    I have a feeling once I'm done with the book, I'm done with Mediterranean cooking for a while. But maybe I can revisit down the line.


Thanks for dropping by! Love, Katrina.