Where can the busy cook find dinner in minutes that tastes out-of-this world? Tonight, it's all coming from the pantry:
My friend (and Jersey Blueberry Pie guest blogger) Camille and I were walking along this past weekend when she mentioned she'd made a quick and delicious recipe of sardine pasta this week. She'd been looking into articles about healthy fish and sardines had been at the top of the list. I was glad she reminded me about spicy pasta with sardines -- it was something I had actually meant to whip up for myself for quite some time. The next day, I did.
I found out upon first bite that this is the ultimate dish where healthy meets huge flavor. Cooked quickly in oil over high heat, sardines transform. They no longer threaten to be fishy, instead enhancing everything with their deeply nutty and savory flavor. The sauce, a combination of the chopped sardines, dried parsley, olive oil, and hot pepper flakes, is light and yet incredibly substantial. When topped with crunchy, toasty breadcrumbs and garlic, delicious is taken to the next level. It's a combination that's absolutely out-of-this world.
The best part is that from start to finish this dish took only fifteen minutes. With only two pans for a quick cleanup, a can of sardines into the recycling and the other few ingredients put back in the shelf, I could relax, savoring every bite slowly. Eating this aromatic and wonderful pasta made me feel like I'd really taken care of myself, which was exactly what I needed on a busy Monday.
Spicy Fettuccine with Sardines: serves two (or one with lunch the next day in my case!)
1/2 lb. linguine or fettuccine pasta
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs (store bought will also be fine)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Bottled olive oil
1 can of Sardines (preferably smoked and packed in oil)
1 T. hot pepper flakes
1 T. dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste
cooking water from the pasta, reserved.
a lemon wedge, optional
Set a large pot of salted water to boil. When it's ready, add the pasta and cook until just al-dente.
Meanwhile, put 1 T. olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and breadcrumbs and stir occasionally until toasted and deeply golden. Set aside
Add a few more T. of olive oil to the pan, as well as the chopped sardines and the olive oil they were packed in for more flavor. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the pepper flakes, parsley, and the cooked pasta. Toss together, adding 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water at a time to moisten. (Add more pasta water than you think you need: when the breadcrumbs are added back on top of the pasta they soak it up quickly). Season with salt and pepper to taste, top with breadcrumbs, and serve.