A number of weeks ago my sister arrived for a weekend visit bringing with her a small jar of rather expensive sardines – our family always arrives with food of some sort as we’re all obsessed with delicious tasting morsels of meat, bread and cake – as a treat. Attached to the outside of the jar was a recipe for a sardine, chilli, caper pasta dish which I eventually cooked last week when my wife and daughter were away. They don’t share my love for oily fish. It was delicious and seeing as I haven’t put up any recipes in months I thought I’d share it with you. Its a perfect summer dish.
So here we are. Its a rather vague recipe and is all up to you; you might like it hotter, spicier, more fragrant or acidic. You can use any kind of sardine you wish; tinned, bottled, fresh. Personally I’d love to try it with fresh chargrilled sardines but then that’s me. I made do with a delicious jar of fancy Ortiz sardines. It’s a quick dish to make and a perfect meal to whip up for friends. So here we go:
Sardine, Chilli, Caper, Pasta
4 Sardine Fillets
150 grammes Tagliatelle (Spaghetti is fine) you ‘re looking for a pasta that the sauce can coat well
4 shallots thinly sliced
2 Cloves of garlic
2 tblsp Capers (If you love capers don’t be afraid to toss in more to taste)
1 tsp Dried Chilli flakes (add more if you love a bit of heat)
2 tblsp Breadcrumbs
6 Anchovies (this is optional and something I added to my sisters recipe because I adore anchovies)
Juice and zest of one lemon
Lots of fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Boil your water for the pasta and get it cooking.
Slice the onions and garlic thinly and slow cook in a pan with lots of good olive oil until they’ve caramelised and are smelling irresistible.
Add your crushed capers, lemon zest, chilli flakes, some of the breadcrumbs and give a good stir. Throw in your sardine fillets and gently break them up with the back of a spoon. It’s important you keep them chunky so don’t go bashing them about the pan. Now, squeeze some lemon juice over the sauce and taste. Add more lemon juice if you like. Remember you’re looking for a balance between sweet and acidic. Throw in the rest of the breadcrumbs and a large handful of chopped parsley. And that’s it. You’re done. All you have to do now is toss your hot pasta into the pan and mix thoroughly. Add lots of Parmesan, more fresh parsley and serve.
Just a quick tip. Don’t rinse your pasta in hot water as it removes the starch and stops the sauce sticking to it. I never bother rinsing pasta at all. I simply toss it into whatever sauce I’m making.
So that’s it. Quick, delicious, very good for you and above all a taste of summer. And remember this recipe is more of a guide than anything else so don’t be afraid to riff off it; olives and fresh tomatoes would make an excellent addition to this wonderful dish.