Total time: 45 minutes
Note: From chef Philip Wojtowicz of Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant. Check Santa Monica Seafood, King Fish in Glendale or Los Angeles Fish Co. for availability of sardines.
5 basil leaves
2 parsley leaves
1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
8 fresh whole sardines (about
1 1/2 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped
1 head frisée lettuce (about 3 cups)
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon minced chives
1 tablespoon chopped
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 cup torn basil
Fennel fronds for garnish
1. To make the vinaigrette, place the basil leaves, parsley leaves and balsamic vinegar in a blender and blend until the mixture is bright green. Add the mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and the white pepper and blend until combined. Add the oil and blend until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Set aside (it should be used the same day).
2. Prepare the fish by first removing the heads. Remove any large scales and slit open the fish along the belly. Rinse them under running water, removing the intestines with your finger. Lay the fish open flat and with the tip of a knife, lift up the head end of the backbone; hold the fish down while gently lifting out the backbone, along with any small bones. With scissors, snip the backbone at the tail end, leaving the tail intact.
3. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Brush them with olive oil and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and cook them on a hot grill, skin side down, until the meat turns translucent, about 4 minutes.
4. In a bowl, mix the frisée with the sliced cherry tomatoes, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, the chives, scallions, shallots and torn basil. Lightly dress with the vinaigrette just before serving. Place the salad on a plate, arrange two grilled sardines next to the salad and garnish with a frond of fennel. Serve immediately.
Each serving: 735 calories; 26 grams protein; 11 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 67 grams fat; 9 grams saturated fat; 73 mg. cholesterol; 768 mg. sodium.