Venetian Sardines

By • January 6, 2010 • 4 Comments

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Author Notes: This simple version of the Venetian classic (sarde en saor) balances the assertive taste of sardines with a sweet-&-sour marinade flavored with saffron and onions. In summer, I like to just throw the sardines on the grill.

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons raisins, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • large pinch saffron
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted


  • 8 fresh sardines, cleaned, gutted & scaled
  • all-purpose flour
  • olive oil, for frying
  • salt
  • lemon wedges
  1. Heat the oil in a sautee pan and cook the onions until they are soft and pale gold. Remove from heat and transfer to a large shallow bowl or pan.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, raisins and bay leaf in a small saucepan and crumble in saffron. Heat over low flame, stirring until sugar is dissolved, reducing slightly. Pour over onions. Stir in pine nuts.
  3. Wash and pat sardines dry, then salt and dust with flour. Heat a generous amount of oil in a large skillet and, when hot but not smoking, fry sardines until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Don’t crowd pan; fry in batches if necessary.
  4. Place the fried sardines into the marinade and spoon it over so they are well covered. The sardines can be eaten now, with lemon squeezed over, alongside a simple fennel salad and grilled white polenta. Or they can marinate in the refrigerator for a day or two and be served as part of a larger antipasti platter.
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Tags: antipasti, Entrees, Healthy, Italian

Comments (4) Questions (0)


about 5 years ago pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

Let's hear it for sardines. A very sustainable seafood selection. And don't forget your anchovies!


about 5 years ago WinnieAb

I LOVE sardines and this looks delicious!


about 5 years ago lastnightsdinner



about 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmmm. I want some! Love the simplicity, too. And the marinade, which appears quite versatile.