Baked Sardine Dolmas with Mastiha-Tomato Sauce

  • 12 brine-preserved grape leaves

  • 12 large fresh sardines, gutted

  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 scallions, whites only, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

  • 1 scant tsp. Mastiha powder

  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ tsp. paprika

  1. Blanch the grape leaves for 3 minutes, drain in a colander, and rinse under cold water.

  2. Lightly oil an ovenproof glass baking dish large enough to hold the sardines snuggly in οne layer. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C).

  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and sauté the scallions and garlic for about 4 - 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, and Mastiha powder, and cook, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes, until the tomato juices evaporate. Toss in the parsley and mint and remove from the heat.

  4. Season each sardine with salt and pepper and wrap each in a grape leaf. Place seam-side down in the baking dish. Distribute the sauce evenly over the sardines. Drizzle in the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the paprika. Cover the pan with foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until the fish is flaky and tender. Remove from the oven and place 3 sardines on each plate, with the sauce spooned on top.