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Sardines On Toast With Tomato Relish



About the Recipe

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Simple Brine

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup sea salt

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

Tomato Relish

  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper


  • 4 fresh sardines, butterflied (see Note)

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided), plus more for drizzling

  • 4 thick slices artisan bread

  • 1/2 lemon Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper


For the brine

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for a few minutes or until the sugar has dissolved, set aside to cool, and then refrigerate until cold.

For the relish

Combine all the ingredients in a large nonreactive bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if desired. Put 1/2 cup of the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Set both aside.

For the sardines

Soak the sardines in the cold brine for 30 minutes or refrigerate in the brine for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, preheat the broiler and set the oven rack 4 inches below it. Remove the fish from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Set the fish on a baking sheet and rub all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set the baking sheet under the broiler and cook the fish for about 2 minutes or until the skin is browned. Turn the fish over and broil the other side for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the skin is browned and the flesh is opaque and flakes easily. Transfer to a plate. Set the oven rack 6 inches below it. Brush one side of each bread slice with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and set on the baking sheet. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown.

To serve, spread each toast with tomato relish. Lay a sardine on top. Drizzle with the tomato relish puree, some additional olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper.

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