Sarde a beccafico – Sicilian stuffed sardines

40 minutes


  • 800g of whole sardines, cleaned, scaled, butterflied, head and spine bone removed
  • 50g of fine breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 25g of raisins, soaked in warm water
  • 25g of pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp of parsley, finely chopped
  • 60ml of orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • bay leaves, (fresh) for layering


Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Grease a baking dish with olive oil and set aside
Rinse the sardines under cold running water then pat dry
In a medium skillet set over a low heat, toast the breadcrumbs until golden and crisp, stirring often to avoid burning. Transfer to a bowl and wet with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Stir to dress evenly
Drain the raisins, squeeze dry, then roughly chop them. Add to the breadcrumbs together with the pine nuts, sugar, parsley and orange juice. Season with a generous dash of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder. Mix all the ingredients together to form a stuffing
Place a small amount of stuffing over each sardine fillet. Roll up the fillets, starting from the head and moving towards the tail. Arrange the rolled-up sardines, tail-side up, on the greased baking dish, and tuck fresh bay leaves between them. Sprinkle any remaining stuffing over them, then drizzle with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt
Bake the sardines for 20–25 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving