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Sautéed Sardines with Fennel, Olive and Mint Salad (Photo © Stephen Peck)

Sautéed Sardines with Fennel, Olive and Mint Salad

Sustainable Seafood Recipe

In this robustly flavored dish, sardines are quickly sautéed until golden and crisp, then paired with a mustardy salad for a lovely lunch or light supper. Serve with lots of crusty bread, and for dessert, a juicy nectarine and blackberry crisp.

Wild-caught sardines from the U.S. are a "Best Choice."

  • (Serves 2)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crusted
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 whole sardines (about 9 ounces total), scaled and cleaned

Combine the mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 3 tablespoons of oil. Mix in the olives, mint and fennel seeds. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Place the fennel in a medium bowl. Add half the dressing and toss to coat.

Brush the sardines with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, turning to coat well. Coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil and warm over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the sardines, in batches if necessary (do not crowd), and cook until browned and just opaque in the center when pierced with a small, sharp knife, about 2 minutes on each side.

Divide the salad between 2 plates. Arrange 3 sardines on each place. Spoon the remaining sauce over the sardines and serve.

Hints from the Chef

  • To remove the fine scales from a sardine, run the fish under cold water while scraping lightly toward the head with the edge of a small knife.
  • To clean a sardine, cut the belly open and remove the insides with a spoon. Or, ask the fishmonger to clean it for you.

Kristine Kidd
Kristine Kidd, Monterey Bay Aquarium Food Editor

Best Choice Sardines


Wild-caught sardines from the U.S. are a "Best Choice."
iPhone Our app brings you up-to-date recommendations for ocean-friendly seafood and sushi. And the newest version, with Project FishMap, lets you share the locations of restaurants and markets where you've found sustainable seafood. As the map grows, you'll also be able to see what others have found near you.

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