Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali
1 hr 30 min
20 min
1 hr 10 min
4 as an appetizer


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 large bell peppers (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 green), halved, stems, ribs and seeds removed, and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 medium golden waxy potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice and placed into cool water
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/2 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 fresh sardines, gutted, gills removed, washed, and dried
Basic Tomato Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped in 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
  • Salt


Preheat the grill or broiler.

In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and potatoes and cook 5 minutes, until softened.

Add the pepper flakes, sugar, thyme, and tomato sauce, bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Season, to taste. Place the peperonata on a platter.

Grill or broil the sardines until they are crisp and the skin is slightly charred (about 2 minutes per side). While grilling the fish, divide the peperonata evenly among 4 dishes. Arrange 2 sardines atop the peperonata on each plate and serve.

Basic Tomato Sauce:

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Yield: 4 cups

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