Sardine tart - is summer over yet?

The fishmongers stalls

The fishmongers stalls

Sardines from La Turballe "with a grain of salt" 

Sardines from La Turballe "with a grain of salt" 

It's still very warm in Rennes, hopefully the beginning of a beautiful indian summer. I  am still eager to enjoy the perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes, the whites peaches and my favorite summer fish.

Grilled sardines will forever remind me of my early days as a journalist in the Basque country, where the Nuits de la Sardine (The Sardine Night Party!) were hugely popular and where I learned to like them as fresh as can be, raw and barely touched by some good olive oil and some lemon...

We can still snatch a few fresh sardines, the very last of the season. At the Marché des Lices, you can find two types of fresh sardines; slightly salted called sardines Turballe, which can be kept a bit longer and the pure unadulterated fresh sardines, that we like to buy. The salt cured sardines are slightly tougher and can a bit overly salty for our taste. They are very delicate fish and need to bought at the utmost freshness. They should be glistening, eyes clear with no red and have no bruises. 

It's really hard to cook sardines in an apartment. The barbeque is obviously out of question,  and broiling gets great results with sea salt and a splash of lemon, but the lingering aroma can be a bit off-putting in an urban environment. So, best to grill sardines in the garden! 

My solution? Eat them raw, lightly marinated, on a freshly toasted baguette.. Or even better, once they've marinated, just put them on a puff party with whatever ingredients you have on hand:  Here I used some tomato paste, fresh goat cheese, arugula, green zebra tomatoes, olive oil and a pinch of Basque Espelette pepper powder. It was a fantastic appetizer! 

At fist we salt the filets for 15 minutes
Marinate the filets wit olive oil , lemon and Espelette pepper

Marinated sardine tart

4 to 6 servings : 20 min prep / 30 min cooking


  • 6 fresh sardines (makes 12 filets) 
  • 1 roll of frozen puff party
  • 1 package of fresh goat cheese
  • 6 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 green zebra tomato
  • 1 cup of arugula
  • 1/4 cup of fine sea salt
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of Espelette peper or 1/4 chili powder 
  • pepper to taste


  1. Filet the sardines or better even, ask your fishmonger to do it.
  2. Wash them and pat them dry
  3. Put them on a shallow plate or dish and cover them with sea salt for 15 minutes, and rinse them very well and pat them dry
  4. Cover them with the olive oil mixed with the lemon juice and the Espelette pepper, let them rest for 10 minutes, not more as the lemon will "cook" them and make the flesh mushy
  5. Mix the goat cheese with the tomato paste, adding a little bit of olive oil until the mix is easily spreadable 
  6. In the meantime, prepare the puff pastry that has previously been unfrozen and spread the tomato+goat cheese mix on top
  7. Cook according to the instructions on your puff pastry package 
  8. If necessary, cover the tart with some aluminium foil half-way through to prevent the tomato-goat cheese mix from burning
  9. Take out from the oven, top with the arugula, the finely sliced green zebra tomato, and the marinated sardines on the tart, add some black pepper to taste  and put back in the oven for 10 min max at the same cooking temperature. The sardines should be lightly cooked and the arugula wilted
  10. Enjoy with a glass of rosé or white wine

Marc's wine pairing

Le Fruit Défendu Rosé – Domaine Magellan – Languedoc  VDP Hérault 2012


The Sardine Tart is full of different flavors in every bite; the tomato and goat cheese paste, spicy arugula, the puff pastry and then of course the plump sashimi-like sardines. Your wine can’t be a shrinking flower. I’m tempted to just have a good pastis with this dish, but Marie told me – no, I want a rosé! This wine will stand up to the tart and even add to the party. Made from cinsault and syrah grapes, it’s fruity and straightforward at first. However, this wine is rich and deep. It has a lot of body for an entry level rosé. An excellent price/qualité ratio to boot (7 euros). Domaine Magellan, is known especially for its Châteauneuf style reds, is a bio-dynamic vineyard in Southern France. By the way Fruit Défendu means Forbidden Fruit. Very tempting indeed.  

If you want something fancier for the is dish, try a Tavel or even better a Bandol Rosé. But, for the price you could add an extra bottle or two of Friuit Defendu! 

From la Cave du Sommelier, Eric Macé, rue Hoche Rennes