Dinner for One [Grilled BC Sardines with Lemon-Herb Oil]

Eating alone is something I’m familiar with. Something I’ve grown to love, to cherish. 

It gives me the opportunity to cook the things that I know Mr GL doesn’t appreciate. A time to be selfish and create dishes that want to eat. This usually means fish, sometimes beans, maybe something consisting entirely of vegetables. Or cheese. Sometimes I get pretty awesome and just eat bread and cheese for dinner, panicking the whole time that I might get caught. Then I remember that I’m a big girl and can have whatever I want for dinner. Where’s the ice cream and whiskey? 

Cooking for one wasn’t always something I treasured, but I’ve been doing it for so long that I’ve developed a list of quick and easy go-to meals that both satisfy and provide a health kick on those busy days that leave little time to muck about in the kitchen. 

Sardines. BAM. 

I know, ok? I know. I’m sure I just lost a few of you with that. Bear with me, I promise I’m getting somewhere delicious with these. We’re not talking about the oil-packed, greasy little suckers you find in the rectangle can with a twist key. I’m talking about big, fresh from the waters of British Columbia, sparkling and clear-eyed sardines.  Inexpensive, sustainable and full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they make eating fish feel good. Really, super, incredibly good. And they are nothing to be afraid or apprehensive of. You should try them. You must try them. They are oilier than other fish, but they have the most decadent flavour. And you can grill them up in under 10 minutes and have a dinner-for-one that’s unrivaled. 

Grilled BC Sardines with Lemon-Herb Oil
serves 1

I grilled these whole, bones, head and everything. If you prefer, you can ask your fish monger to gut them for you so you don’t have to do it at home. 

If you’re unable to find fresh sardines, smelts will do in a pinch but are smaller and require a shorter cooking time. 

2 whole sardines, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp fresh sage
1/2 tbsp fresh thyme 
1/2 tbsp parsley
1 small cloves garlic, pressed
zest from 1/2 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon 
coarse salt
fresh ground pepper
sliced lemon to serve
shaved fennel, optional

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, herbs, garlic and lemon.  

Rub the sardines with a generous amount of the oil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes while the grill heats up. When you’re ready to grill, sprinkle the fish with coarse salt and a few grind of freshly ground pepper. 

Grill 2 minutes on each side, until skin is nice and charred and flesh is flaky. Brush with any remaining oil. Serve with a lemon wedge. 

Serve sardines with shaved fennel drizzled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. If you do want to filet the sardines, click here for details. But if, like me, you don’t mind picking through messily, then you’re welcome to do just that.