Grilled sardines with cherry tomatoes, rocket and fennel

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Sardines are a really versatile, good value fish. This recipe uses butterflied sardines with roasted cherry tomatoes to make a simple but stunning starter or light lunch. Butterfly the fish yourself or ask a fishmonger to do it for you.



  • fennel 1 bulb, trimmed
  • sardines 8 small or 4 large, cleaned and heads removed
  • thyme a few sprigs, leaves stripped
  • garlic 2 cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • cherry tomatoes 4 small bunches on the vine
  • olive oil
  • sourdough bread 4 slices, toasted to serve
  • wild rocket 100g
  • lemon juice a squeeze


  • Step 1

    Slice the fennel as thinly as possible, preferably using a mandolin, then drop into a bowl of iced water. Leave to soak for about 20 minutes to allow the fennel to crisp up.

  • Step 2

    To flatten the sardines and remove the backbone, open out the gut cavity and lay the fish on the chopping board skin-side up. Press down on the backbone with the palm of your hand from the head to the tail. Turn the fish over and peel off the backbone. If you need to, use a pair of scissors to cut it out. Don’t worry if you have a few small bones remaining.

  • Step 3

    Heat the grill to the highest setting. Lay the sardines, skin-side up, on an oiled baking tray. season and scatter the thyme and garlic over. lay the tomatoes on top. drizzle with a little more oil and grill for 4-6 minutes, until cooked through.

  • Step 4

    Put the sourdough on plates and top with the sardines and tomatoes. Drain the fennel well and toss in a bowl with the rocket, lemon juice, 4 tbsp olive oil and some seasoning. Serve with the sardines.