"Sardines are an Italian delicacy," says Giovanni Pilu of Sydney's Pilu. "They are delicious when simply fried and served with a lovely eggplant purée." This recipe is designed as an entrée or a light supper.
- 150 gm young Pecorino Sardo (see note), grated
- 18 butterflied sardine fillets, deboned and trimmed
- Plain flour, for dusting
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 210 gm (3 cups) fine fresh breadcrumbs
- 100 gm rocket
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying and drizzling
- Strained juice of ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges, to serve
- 1 large eggplant (about 500gm)
- ½ garlic clove
- 2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1For eggplant purée, preheat oven to 200°C. Roast eggplant until very soft (20-30 minutes). When cool enough to handle, peel and remove seeds. Add to a blender with garlic, parsley and lemon juice, season to taste, then process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in oil until smooth.
- 2Place 1 tbsp pecorino on one half of each sardine, then fold over to enclose. Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Dust sardines with flour, then dip in egg, shaking off excess, then coat in breadcrumbs. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add oil and, when hot, cook sardines, turning, until light golden (3-5 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, toss rocket with lemon juice and a little oil to taste. Season to taste.
- 4Divide rocket salad among plates, top with sardines and serve with a spoonful of eggplant purée on the side.
Pecorino Sardo, Sardinian pecorino, is available from select Italian delicatessens. If unavailable, substitute another pecorino.