Sicilian Style Sardines & Cauliflower with Salted Grapes

These are for my mum. The pickily, vegetably, oily fish loving Goddess that she is. I have her to thank for my delight in anything that makes my cheeks pucker so much I spend the rest of the day enjoying ‘digested mouth lining’ in sheets.

Growing up we were never without a jar of pickled beetroot, gherkins or onions and I honestly believe that is why I am such a devout devotee to the fermentation game.

This is a hedonistic dish, it combines everything we love, raisins (controversial but we are in the ‘lovers’ camp), a good depth of toasted nuttiness, oily fish, vegetables and of course that sour tang from which we get our kicks. The salted grapes speak for themselves, the salinity averting your tastes from the sometimes overpowering ‘fabric softener’ sweetness of grapes.

Mum, thank you for everything

1 Cauliflower, cut into small florets

50g Mushrooms, finely sliced

120g Can Sardines in Olive Oil

50g Pine Nuts

2 tbsp Plump Raisins

1 Clove Garlic, minced

2 tsp Honey

2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

Olive Oil

Parsley & Mint to garnish

Salted Grapes

20-30 Seedless Grapes

1 tbsp Caster Sugar

20ml Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Hummus, Toast or grains to serve


1. Begin with the grapes. Preheat oven 120C. Combine all the ingredients for the grapes in a bowl and tumble onto an oiled wire rack. Dry in the oven for 1-2 hours, they will be wrinkly but semi dry. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes. Drain and allow to dry.

3. Heat some oil in a large pan. Fry the mushrooms, without turning for 3 minutes, turn and cook 3 minutes more. They should be beginning to caramelise and lost their moisture.

4. Tumble in the cauliflower. Add the oil from the sardines along with the garlic and reduce the heat to medium.

5. Add the pine nuts and cook for 3-4 minutes or until beginning to toast.

6. Add the remaining ingredients, aside from the fresh herbs and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the vinegar has reduced.

7. Stir through the fresh herbs, taste, season with salt & black pepper (remembering that the grapes are salted) and serve garnished with some salted grapes.