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Sardines on toast with sweet onion and pine nut tarator

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for sardines on toast with sweet onion and pine nut tarator.

By Andrew McConnell
  • Serves 4
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Sardines on toast with sweet onion and pine nut tarator
This is a variation on the classic Venetian sweet-and-sour dish sarde in saor, where sardines are steeped in vinegar and flavoured with pine nuts and raisins. You can find pickled garlic in select Spanish delicatessens.


  • 2 thin slices sourdough bread
  • For brushing: extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fresh sardines, filleted and trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Squeeze of: lemon juice
  • To serve: 1 pickled garlic clove, finely sliced
  • To serve: dill fronds
Sweet onion
  • 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp raisins, soaked for 5 minutes in warm water and halved
Pine nut tarator
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ¼ garlic clove
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of sumac
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1
    To make the sweet onion, place onion, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. The onion should start to wilt and soften somewhat, but still maintain a subtle bite or crunch. Transfer to a stainless-steel bowl, stir in vinegar and cover with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature, then stir in raisins and set aside.
  • 2
    For the pine nut tarator, preheat oven to 180C. Spread pine nuts on an oven tray and roast for a few minutes until golden. Allow to cool, then transfer to a chopping board and chop roughly. Using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic with a pinch of salt. Add lemon juice and red wine vinegar, then let garlic “cook” for 5 minutes in the acid before adding chopped pine nuts, parsley, sumac and extra-virgin olive oil. Stir well to incorporate, then set aside.
  • 3
    Preheat a barbecue or char-grill pan. Cut slices of bread into fingers roughly the same width as a sardine fillet. Grill bread on both sides, then brush with a little extra-virgin olive oil and set aside.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, season skin-side of sardine fillets with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a non-stick frying pan over low heat, add olive oil and gently fry fillets, skin-side down, for about 1 minute until just cooked through. Remove fillets from pan and season with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • 5
    Place a tablespoon of sweet onion on each toast finger and spread it right to the edges. Top with a sardine fillet, skin-side up, followed by a generous teaspoon of pine nut tarator. Scatter with pickled garlic slices and dill and eat immediately.


Note*Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell is published by Penguin Lantern ($59.95, hbk). This extract has been reproduced with minor GT* style changes.