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Apulian Cooking
Sardine fishballs A delicate dish, healthy and extremely cheap.
We advise accompanying it with a glass of Leverano white wine
by Dario Ersetti
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Sardine fishballs. Photo by Dario Ersetti

      This is a dish that used to be made when you were supposed to be eating lean, according to Catholic directives, for example on Fridays during Lent. 

      Sardines are a cheap product anyway, but in this case, by adding generous quantities of breadcrumbs, the overall cost of the dish is reduced even further. 
      As far as the choice of caciocavallo cheese is concerned, in this case in grated form, we note that recently it has been possible to find the product after seasoning in caves in Noci, in the southern Murge. It’s a procedure that adds greatly to the natural excellent flavor of the product. The difference obviously won’t be noted in the sardine balls, so we advise you to make them with normal caciocavallo and to taste, maybe later, the exquisite caciocavallo di fossa.
Some advice regarding the choice of wine. 
Very fresh sardines do not “taste fishy”, caciocavallo doesn’t “taste cheesy”: in this recipe the fishballs have a very delicate taste! We advise accompanying them with a Leverano white wine. It’s the color of straw with slightly greenish nuances, dry and cool with a slightly fruity vein, with hints of green apple and the right touch of acidity. It’s obtained from 80% Malvasia Bianca grapes and Chardonnay accounts for the remaining 20%. It’s 20% proof and should be served at a temperature 8-10°C.
 
The recipe
 
Ingredients:
 
- 500 g of sardines (when cleaned they weigh circa 300 g)
- 100 g breadcrumbs
- 50 g grated caciocavallo 
- 2 eggs
- the grated zest of one small lemon
- a finely chopped clove of garlic
- a handful of parsley 
- salt
- pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil
 
      Clean the sardines, take off their heads, the innards, rinse them and dry them. Chop them roughly with a knife and mix them with the breadcrumbs, the grated caciocavallo, the parsley, the garlic, the eggs, the salt and the pepper. Mix together to obtain a fairly heavy dough to make the balls from, about the size of a walnut. Fry them in plenty of hot oil after dusting them with flour.  
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