Sardines & Avocado
Marinated sardines (with grapeseed oil, sherry vinegar, thyme, parsley & Aleppo pepper) with avocado, toasted almonds, scallions, red onion, mint & lemon juice
This recipe was adapted from Gabrielle Hamilton's Prune cookbook. I've never been to the restaurant in New York, but I was completely won over after reading her memoir Blood, Bones & Butter, so I thought I'd give one of her recipes a try on a pizza. It's definitely an adventurous one, but if you are down with the recent gourmet sardine craze (see: American Sardine Bar in Point Breeze), this is definitely worth a taste. Plus, bizarrely, it's our second pizza in a row that's cheese-free! It's rare to get me to give up putting cheese on a pizza, so if you're someone who doesn't eat it (but does eat fish—it's a small intersection but I'm sure it exists), then this one's for you.
1 ball of pizza dough
salt & pepper
flour for dusting
semolina flour for pizza stone
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
2-3 scallions, sliced (white & pale green parts)
squeeze of lemon juice
Maldon sea salt flakes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (on a mandoline if you have one)
For the marinated sardines:
6-8 whole sardines (you’re going to fillet them, so if you would prefer to just buy sardine fillets, go for it)
2 cups olive oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or Aleppo pepper)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
This recipe starts with the sardines, which you’re going to want to start a few hours before the rest of your pizza. If you’re short on time, I’d suggest starting them in the morning so they’ll be ready by dinner.
If you’ve gotten whole fish, you’re going to start by cleaning and filleting it—see here for helpful step-by-step instructions and pictures. Once you have your cleaned fillets ready, fill a deep skillet with about an inch of grapeseed oil, and heat it until the oil is shimmering.
Gently fry your almond slices in the hot oil until they are just turning golden, then remove them with a slotted spoon to dry on some paper towels.
Now, turn off the heat but keep the same hot oil in your pan and add your sardines. You may be tempted to do this in batches, but it’s really better to do them all at once since the heat is turned off, so the oil will gradually start to cool down.
You’ll want to poach the sardines until they are just cooked through—you’ll know they’re ready because they will start to turn opaque. This won’t take long—about 90 seconds—so watch them carefully. Then remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them well. Again, don’t get rid of that oil.
Now you’re going to pour the oil into a large bowl (or even keep it in the skillet if you think you can keep it from spilling) and combine it with the sherry vinegar, red pepper flakes, thyme, parsley and fried almonds. This is your marinade. Carefully slip the poached fillets into the mixture and let them soak for a few hours.
Now, when you’re ready to get into pizza mode, preheat your oven to 550° F, or as hot as it will go. While it’s heating, salt your onion slices liberally to soften them up a bit, then prepare your dough using the instructions on the right. Then, once it’s hot and you’ve pre-baked your dough for a minute, take it out and brush it lightly with olive oil.
First, you’re going to add the avocado to the pizza. Depending on the consistency of your avocados, you can either mash them first and spread them onto the dough, or slice them up and gently mash each slice with a fork as you lay it on the pizza. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on top to keep it from turning brown.
Next, carefully lay out your marinated fish onto the pizza, and drizzle some of the marinade on top. Scatter your onion slices across the pizza, followed by the about half of the mint and sliced scallions. Spoon a couple tablespoons of your fried almonds out of the marinade and sprinkle those on top as well, followed by some freshly ground black pepper and a few pinches of Maldon salt flakes.
Now pop your pizza in the oven and bake until the crust is a nice golden brown. Take it out, top it with the remaining fresh mint and scallions, and enjoy!
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