Food & Drink

Grilled Sardines

2 servings as an appetizer

A warm raisin-sherry vinaigrette tempers the strong-flavored fish

Photo: Courtesy of the White Bull

Pour glasses of Southern Italian wine (Frappato or Falanghina) as you serve this dish, says chef Pat Pascarella, who runs the White Bull in Decatur, Georgia. The child of Italian immigrants, Pascarella remembers his mother rising at 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve to prepare the family’s Feast of the Seven Fishes. Now, he riffs on many of those recipes; these grilled sardines with the flavors of Sicily will be on his special seafood menu before Christmas.


> See our full Feast of the Seven Fishes menu


    • 3 fresh whole sardines, scaled, gutted, and filleted

    • 2 tbsp. raisins

    • 1 shallot, finely chopped

    • ¼ tbsp. (or scant tsp.) thyme leaves

    • ½ cup sherry vinegar

    • 1 tbsp. capers, drained

    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (high-quality)

    • 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

    • 6 arugula leaves

    • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat grill or grill pan to hot and place sardine fillets skin-side down. Grill until cooked through on the bottom and slightly rare on top, about 3 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, add the raisins, shallot, thyme, and sherry vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off heat and let cool. Add capers and olive oil to the raisin mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. Once the sardines are cooked, carefully remove from the grill and place flesh-side down on a plate. Whisk the vinaigrette to blend, and drizzle on top of the sardines. Season to taste, and garnish with pine nuts and arugula leaves.