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Ainsley Harriott’s Pan-Seared Sardines with Thyme-Roasted Vine Tomato and Bread Salad

Ainsley Harriott transforms classic sardines on toast with this light and refreshing summer supper made fragrant with fresh herbs, lemon and rocket.


I’ve always loved sardines on toast, and when I was a young chef it was one of my go-to meals when I got in from a long shift. Food can be so evocative, and now whenever I eat sardines I’m always reminded of those times. Here I’ve taken the flavours of that simple enjoyable snack and elevated them to make a scrumptious summery salad that’s perfect for lunch or a light supper. You can buy butterflied sardine fillets – often Cornish – from most supermarkets. They’re good value and also save you from messing around with too many bones. For ease, you can use a good-quality tin of sardines if you prefer.

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6 ripe, medium vine tomatoes, halved
1 tsp sugar
¼–½ tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
3–4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
150g sourdough or rustic bread, torn or cut into cubes
2–4 butterflied sardine fillets, checked for bones, from a sustainable source
oil, for brushing
a handful of basil leaves, shredded
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
zest and juice of ½ lemon
a large handful of rocket leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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