Grilled Sardines, Olive Pesto and Cauliflower Puree

Chuck Hughes’ perfectly grilled sardines served with fresh olive pesto and cauliflower puree are a delightful “ménage à trois” of flavors.

Easy, Moderate, Complex

Yields: 4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 11 minutes


    • 1 head of cauliflower cut in small pieces
    • 2 tablespoons of butter (30 ml)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 cup green olives (250 ml)
    • 2 cups basil (500 ml)
    • 2 cups parsley (500 ml)
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated (125 ml)
    • ½ cup roasted peeled almonds (125 ml)
    • 1/2 cup olive oil (125 ml)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 12 sardines filets
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
    • Salt and pepper
    • ½ cup roasted peeled almonds (60 ml)
    • Good quality olive oil


  1. For the cauliflower puree:  Cook the cauliflower in salted boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain the water and transfer to a blender.  Add butter and blend until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.
  2. For the green pesto:  In a blender, reduce all the ingredients to a puree.  Reserve 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the roasted almonds for the garnish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  3. For the grilled sardines: In a skillet, grill sardines in olive oil for 1 minute on the skin side.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep warm.
  4. For the serving:  Pour some cauliflower puree on the bottom of a plate, top with 3 sardine filets.  Garnish each sardine with a dollop of the green pesto and some crushed roasted almonds. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve.
  5. Cook’s note: You can replace sardines with smelt, herring or mackerel.