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    Jason Atherton's Grilled sardines on toast

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    Jason Atherton's Grilled sardines on toast

    Serves: 4


    8 sardine fillets, butterflied (filleted and opened flat)
    25g pack basil, leaves picked, stalks reserved
    400g cherry tomatoes, about 35-40, halved
    2 tbsp red onion, finely diced
    4 tbsp sherry vinegar
    120ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
    1½ lemons, in halves ready for squeezing
    4 rashers of streaky bacon, left whole
    120g tin sardines in tomato sauce
    4 slices of thick country bread (ciabatta or sourdough)
    1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
    Vegetable oil, for frying


    1 Check the sardine fillets for bones, cover and refrigerate.  Set aside some of the basil leaves for garnish and put the rest into a bowl with half of the cherry tomatoes.

    2 Add the onion, sherry vinegar, olive oil and the juice of ½ lemon to the tomatoes. Toss gently and season with salt. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

    3 Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a small wide pan and fry the bacon rashers until crisp. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, trim to neaten if you like, and set aside.

    4 Into the same pan, tip the tinned sardines in tomato sauce, basil stalks and remaining cherry tomatoes. Stir and let simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are cooked, stirring often. Remove from the heat and stir in the juice of ½ lemon. Transfer to a small blender and purée until smooth, then press through a sieve into a bowl. Season.

    5 Heat up a griddle or grill. Char-grill or toast the bread until golden brown, and scorched if using a griddle. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove.

    6 Heat a good splash of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Pan-fry the sardine fillets, skin side down first, for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked. Season with a little salt and add a squeeze of lemon.

    7 To serve, place the griddled bread on the plate and top with the puréed sardine mix, top with the tomato salad and fresh sardines and garnish with the bacon, remaining basil and lemon.

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