Let's say you have an adventurous eater coming to your house for dinner. This is the guy or gal who opts for the chicken feet, the tuna heart, or the creamed corn ice cream. Hummus and crudités are just not going to do. But this extremely simple and decadent appetizer will impress even the most well traveled foodie and will surprise the most squeamish eater. It is bright, tart, and has a bit of a crunch from well toasted sardine skin, transporting you to the shore of some distant Greek Isle. As an added bonus, fresh sardines are an extremely sustainable fish and very good for you, packed full of Omega-3. They also happen to be gracing grocery stores more frequently and are relatively cheap. These two little friends cost me a mere dollar. Now that is truly a deal. —Sodium Girl
In a bowl, combine parsley, olive oil, juice from half of the lemon, chopped garlic, and champagne vinegar.
Coarsely chop the ingredients in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
To prepare the sardines, make sure they have been scaled and cleaned (i.e. removal of guts and back bone if possible) and give the little guys a good rinse before cooking. Leave head and tail on.
Grate nutmeg for five seconds over both sides of the fish and pepper lightly.
Heat sesame oil in non-stick pan over medium flame. Wait 2-3 minutes for the oil to get hot. To test if it is ready, flick some water into the pan and the oil should hiss.
Add the sardines to the pan (it should be large enough for each sardine to touch the bottom). Sauté for 5 minutes. Flip the fish (it should be golden brown and crispy) and sauté the other side for five minutes as well.
Line an oven-safe pan with thin slices of lemon and lay your crispy skin sardines on top.
Cover the sardines with a coating of the parsley, lemon, vinegar, garlic mixture (the gremolata) and put in the oven for 5 minutes.
Before removing from oven, turn broiler on low and move the fish to the top rack, directly below flame. Cook for 2 more minutes, allowing the skin to get the perfect crunch.
To serve, plate fish over the remaining gremolata and cover with the chopped grapes. Dig in.
In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications. Five years later, I work part time and live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!