Fresh sardines (“hamsi” in Turkish) are apparently in season right now, as there are huge piles of them at every fish stall in the market right now.  After looking at them curiously for a few weeks, we decided to take the plunge and try to cook some ourselves.  We found a recipe in the last issue of Cucina Italiana for Sicilian Stuffed Sardines, which looked absolutely delicious and also used primarily things we already had in the kitchen (with the obvious exception of the sardines).  We bought a half kilo of sardines this morning (for a whopping 1 lira or 60 cents), and having heard that they don’t keep very well we decided to prepare them for our post-church, post-grocery shopping snack this afternoon.

I know that a recipe that includes both sardines and anchovies may not appeal to everyone, but let me tell you, they were AMAZING.  Preparing the sardines was pretty time-consuming (partly because the ones we got are smaller than the sardines used in the recipe so we had to use 36 sardines instead of the 12 specified), but the preparation and cooking made for a great, relaxing Sunday afternoon.  For once I remembered to take pictures as we went, so here goes!

To prepare the sardines, we first removed their heads and gutted them:


Then we removed the spines to butterfly them.  While Danny prepped the sardines, I made the stuffing:


Then we laid the sardines in the baking dish, spooned stuffing onto them, and laid a second sardine on top:


Then we sprinkled more breadcrumbs on top, drizzled them with olive oil, and baked them for 20 minutes before serving: