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Recipe of the week: Carole Bamford's sardines on toast with tomato, basil and caper relish

20 August 2020

Taken from A Love for Food, by Carole Bamford.

This is one of my favourite suppers when I want something comforting and simple. The sardines can be served without the relish, but I love the kick that it offers. If you want more heat in the relish, use a hotter chilli..

Serves 6

  • 6 slices of bread, preferably sourdough
  • 12 fresh sardines, butterflied
  • 3tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, cut in half
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • 3 large vine tomatoes
  • 6 small handfuls of rocket leaves
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the tomato caper relish

  • 3tbs olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • A pinch of coriander seeds
  • A pinch of fennel seeds
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1tsp long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 5 large red vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 4tbs capers
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, leaves roughly chopped or torn

Heat the olive oil for the relish in a pan, then put in the red onion and both seeds and cook gently over a low heat until the onions have softened. Add the vinegar, sugar, chilli, tomatoes and 200ml of water. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the capers, lemon juice and zest, and the basil, remove and leave to cool, then taste and season as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a grill or get a griddle pan smoking hot on the hob. Lightly char the bread on both sides, then transfer to a baking tray and put into the oven for about six minutes.

Meanwhile, rub the sardines with olive oil and season. Put under a hot grill or, preferably, cook on a hot griddle for two minutes on each side, until lightly charred and cooked. Check by gently pressing the flesh with the back of a fork and if it starts to flake it is ready.

Rub the toasted bread with the cut side of the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Slice the tomatoes and divide between six plates. Put a slice of toast on top with some tomato relish, followed by two sardines, some rocket leaves, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper.

Photography by Sarah Maingot

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