Soused fresh sardine salad

    55 min

    Cooking fish – traditionally by frying – and then submerging it in a ‘souse’ is a very tasty way to prepare it, and was once a means of preserving. Here sardines are grilled and marinated, then served on a Moroccan-spiced couscous, chickpea and pepper salad. It is a perfect prepare-ahead dish for summer entertaining.

    5 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 8 fresh sardines, cleaned, scaled and heads removed
    • 1 small lemon, cut into 8 thin slices and each slice halved
    • 250 g (8½ oz) couscous
    • 1½ tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • pinch of cayenne pepper
    • 1½ tsp butter
    • 600 ml (1 pint) boiling water
    • 1 can chickpeas, about 410 g, drained and rinsed
    • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
    • 2 large peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), seeded and finely diced
    • 1 large courgette, grated
    • 140 g (5 oz) baby spinach leaves
    • fresh flat-leaf parsley to garnish
    • salt and pepper
    • Marinade
    • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
    • 4 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp garlic-flavoured olive oil
    • 1 fresh red or green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 6 black peppercorns, lightly cracked
    • 1 bay leaf

    Prep:55min  ›  Ready in:55min 

    1. Preheat the grill to high. To make the marinade, put the lemon zest and juice in a bowl and whisk in the oil. Stir in the chilli, shallot, peppercorns and bay leaf.
    2. Line the grill rack with foil and lightly brush with marinade. Tuck 2 lemon slice halves in each sardine cavity, then arrange the sardines on the foil. Brush with more marinade and grill for 2 minutes.
    3. Carefully turn the sardines over, lightly brush with marinade again and grill for a further 2–3 minutes or until the skins are slightly crisp and the flesh flakes easily. Immediately transfer the sardines to a baking dish, arranging them in one layer, and pour over the marinade, including any remaining in the grill pan. Roll each sardine over so it is well coated. Leave to cool, then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a bowl and stir in the coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, butter and salt to taste. Pour over the boiling water and stir, then set aside to cool.
    5. About 15 minutes before serving, remove the sardines from the fridge. Add the chickpeas, spring onions, peppers and courgette to the couscous, then stir to mix and fluff up the grains.
    6. Divide the spinach leaves among 4 plates and spoon on the couscous. Remove the sardines from the marinade and place 2 fish on each plate. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

    Plus points

    Fresh sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B12 and the antioxidant selenium, and also provide useful quantities of potassium. * The vitamin C in the spinach leaves and the peppers helps with the absorption of iron from the sardines. * As soon as vegetables are cut, their vitamin content starts to diminish, so if possible they should be prepared just before serving, as is done for this salad.

    Another idea

    Make a soused trout salad with orzo, the small rice-shaped pasta. For the marinade, mix together the finely grated zest of 1 large lemon, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp orange juice, 100 g (3½ oz) thinly sliced shallots, 1 thinly sliced carrot, 1 bay leaf and 1 seeded and chopped fresh green chilli. Grill 4 skinless trout fillets, about 140 g (5 oz) each, for 6–7 minutes, turning once and brushing with the marinade. Transfer the fillets to a baking dish, pour over the marinade and leave to cool, then cover and chill. Meanwhile, cook 250 g (8½ oz) orzo in boiling water for 10–12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and leave to cool. About 15 minutes before serving, add 85 g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves, 55 g (2 oz) rocket and 1 red pepper, seeded and diced, to the orzo and fold together. Flake the trout and gently stir in, with the marinade, 4 tbsp chopped parsley and seasoning.

    Each serving provides

    A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, folate, niacin, iron, selenium * calcium, copper, potassium, zinc

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