Sardines in the oven (Σαρδελες στο φουρνο)

Sardines really are a staple in the Greek kitchen and a regular feature on weekly family menus. Fresh sardines are utterly delicious, but they have to be absolutely fresh.  To find the freshest sardines, I follow Mum's advice: sardines should have a firm body that is a glistening in a steely blue colour. Their eyes should be bright and clear. If sardines are not absolutely fresh, the heads start to turn red under the fishes eye. Also, sardines should not be longer than around 5 inches.

One of my favourite ways to cook fresh sardines comes from a recipe I was given from the lovely Elizabeth, of Elizabeth's Garden Taverna in Naxos. The most time consuming part of the dish is cleaning and butterflying the sardines - and peeling/de-seeding a few tomatoes. However, other than that this dish is a doddle!

Sardines in the oven (Σαρδέλες στο φούρνο)


10 large fresh sardines, dressed (cleaned and gutted) and butterflied 
6 Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
2 Firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, de-seeded and cut into dice 
1 tablespoon dried Greek rigani 
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 

2. In bowl, toss the cleaned, butterflied sardines together with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. 

3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the surface of an oven-proof baking dish large enough to hold the sardines snuggly in one layer. 

4. Place the sardines in the baking dish, laying them flat, skin side up one next to the other and scatter the tomato slices and rigani over the sardines. Drizzle over any remaining liquid from the bowl. 

5. Drizzle over a little more olive oil and bake uncovered for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until the sardines are tender. 

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© Mulberry and Pomegranate
Maira Gall