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Delicious Fried Sardines With Warm Lentil Salad, Fennel and a Lemon Salsa Verde

Fried Sardines With Warm Lentil Salad, Fennel and a Lemon Salsa Verde
September 2022
Reading time 2 Minutes

This dish is perfect for a summer lunch

This recipe has come a very long way with me: I’ve been making it since I was working at Eyre Brothers. I don’t play around with it much, because it really works just as it is. Sometimes I make it with anchovies, but here, I’m doing it without.

The first time I saw salsa verde being made this way, I was a bit baffled, because in most parts of Spain, a salsa verde is actually a very light white sauce: it’s very popular in the Basque country, where they make a gorgeous dish involving hake, white asparagus, clams, peas and plenty of parsley. This zesty green version pairs perfectly with the fried sardines and earthy lentils.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 200g puy lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 8 sardines, butterflied
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 125ml white wine
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • good pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, very finely sliced with a mandolin
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the salsa verde
  • 30g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 10g fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • ½ green chilli, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil

Heat half the oil in a saucepan over a low heat and gently fry the shallot and garlic for five minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf and stock, and season well. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are just tender. Drain well and tip on to a serving platter.

In a small saucepan over a medium-high heat, mix together the vinegar, white wine, peppercorns, coriander seeds and sugar. Reduce by half, then toss with the red onion in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix together all the salsa ingredients and season well.

Heat the rest of the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and fry the sardine fillets, skin-side down, for two minutes until crisp and golden. Flip over and fry for another minute until just cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Toss the finely shredded fennel with the lentils. Top with the sardines and scatter over the pickled red onion, then drizzle with the salsa verde.

The Spanish Home Kitchen:
Simple, Seasonal Recipes and Memories from My Home by José Pizarro
(Hardie Grant, £27)
Photography © Emma Lee

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