Au Gratin Sardines with Sicilian Pecorino, Capers and Nutmeg

Sicilian Culture; Au Gratin Sardines, Featuring International Chef Morsiani


(The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California loves dogs too.)

Chef Morsiani is making ‘Au Gratin Sardines with Sicilian Pecorino, Capers and Nutmeg’! Delicioso…



Warm Wishes from Huckleberry Hill! Subscribers have contacted me, asking for me to share some of my favorite posts. I hope that you enjoy this selection, as it connects the history of sardines at Monterey Bay with the sardine tradition from Sicily, Italy. Enjoy!

Stay safe. Huckleberry Hugs, XO Maxine


On Monterey Bay, many have a strong emotional connection to the ‘Sardine Factories of Cannery Row’. Our love of sardines, is also embraced in Sicilian culture.

This recipe features Sicilian flavors beyond sardines. The ‘au gratin’ features pecorino cheese; the featured spice is a well-liked Sicilian favorite of nutmeg. The capers add another wonderful flavor profile, use more of less to the like of your famiglia!


History of Sardines in the Sicilian Culture: The island of Sicily has been shaped and influenced by many cultures. Arab cultural influences, via North Africa, were strong as the culture ruled Sicily in 1061 A.D.  With many military troops and mouths to feed during that time, the need to forage for food was strong. The sardines in the waters off the Mediterranean coast, especially near Palermo resulted in delicious dishes. Pasta ‘con le Sarde’ became popular. The creative take on this ‘au gratin’ dish brings the exotic ingredients and flavors to an amazing combination. The nutmeg, Pecorino and capers highlight the popular Sicilian influences. 

 Chef Manuel Morsiani’s Recipe: Enjoy!


Sardines are a key-ingredient of Sicilian cuisine. 

1 kilo of Pilchards (Sardines)

140 grams of Dry bread crumbs

110 grams of Sicilian Pecorino

 6 Anchovy, anchovies

 6 green olives

15 Capers, rinsed, drained and chopped

 1 Lemon

 1 Parsley, sprig

 1 dash of Bay leaf

 1 dash of Nutmeg

 1 drop of Extra virgin olive oil (EVO)

 1 dash of Table salt

 1 dash of Black pepper

Prep the fish: Cut off the fish heads, then open the fish up and remove the backbone. Rinse the fish, pat dry and put them still opened out on a paper towel.

In a pan, toast the breadcrumbs with a drizzle of oil. As soon as the breadcrumbs start to brown, remove them from the heat and pour them into a bowl. Remove the backbone from the anchovies, then chop. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, anchovies, Pecorino, grated rind of ½ lemon, parsley, chopped capers, nutmeg, salt and pepper. 

Blend the filling well. Drop a teaspoonful on each open sardine. Then take another sardine and top it as though you were making a sandwich.

In a greased pan, arrange the sardines vertically, separated by bay leaves. 

Add the green olive.

Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 20 minutes. Serve while hot. ENJOY!


About Acclaimed Chef Morsiani:

Manuel has become a dear friend, he is an expert in Sicilian Cuisine and a strong supporter of Huckleberry Hill Adventure, LLC’s  focus on ‘Italian Influence and California living’! Follow Chef Morsiani on his culinary adventures. He will visit California and share in our wonderful fresh California products.

From the hometown of Bolgna, Italy Manuel Morsiani travels through Italy and is based in Dublin, Ireland. He has a home and love of Sicilia. He is a highly trained professional chef trained in fine Italian dining.


Follow you heart and live your dreams, even if it takes you all the way to the west coast of California. Huckleberry Hugs, Maxine