1 3/4 pounds sardines 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Juice of 1 lemon Salt and pepper to taste 4 salt-packed anchovies 1 sprig parsley minced 3 1/2 tablespoons capers 3 tablespoons raisins 1/4 cup pine nuts 3 bay leaves Zest from 1 lemon 1/2 cup almonds toasted and chopped 3 1/2 tablespoons black olives pitted and minced 1 onion chopped 1 clove garlic chopped 1 shallot chopped 2/3 cup Pecorino cheese grated
Soak raisins in warm water for 20 minutes. Prepare the sardines: remove the scales and the head, but not the tail. Hold each sardine belly-side up and cut along its belly so the fish opens up like a book. Remove insides and bones. Leave tails intact.
Rinse in cold water, dry and season by rubbing with bay leaf. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat, stir in fresh breadcrumbs and sauté for a couple of minutes until golden. Set aside in a bowl to cool down slightly. Drain raisins and squeeze out all excess water.
Rinse anchovies and capers in running water to remove salt. Add to the breadcrumb mixture along with chopped pine nuts and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Optional additions: chopped garlic, shallot or onion, pitted olives, toasted almonds and lemon zest, and grated Pecorino cheese.
Mix well and spread a teaspoon of this mixture on the inside of the sardines, pressing down lightly with your fingers. Roll up the sardines (keeping the filling inside) with the tail sticking up. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the stuffed sardines.
Add bay leaf, sprinkle with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs and drizzle on the remaining oil. Cook in a preheated 420°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Dress with lemon juice and serve hot!