Pasta with Sardines

by Isabelle O’Carroll, writer
It's funny, I'm quite a homebody most of the time anyway, but there's a huge difference between staying at home because you want to, and knowing you have to, and right now, it's taking energy to keep the cabin fever at bay. Containing at once the fear and concern of a deadly global pandemic and the day-to-day mundanity of existing in long-term isolation is both impossible and mad-making.
This isn’t really a recipe, it’s more of a push in the right direction. I don't want to be giving complicated instructions at the moment. I want this to be something you can make if you're tired and low on inspiration. Do you have some pasta? Do you have a tin of sardines? Do you know that with just a few ingredients you can make something that might make you feel calmer and happier for a while?

Scroll down para receita em português

This isn’t really a recipe, it’s more of a push in the right direction.


Do you have some pasta? Do you have a tin of sardines? Do you know that you can make something lovely and comforting from a few ingredients?

Good. Preferably, the pasta would be spaghetti, bucatini or linguine (wholemeal works well with the oily fish) but accepting that things aren’t going to be exactly as we want is a lesson I’m trying to learn right now. The sardines too, in tomato sauce is nice, but also in olive oil is good, use what you have. There is a lovely traditional Sicilian dish, pasta con sarde, with fennel, saffron and raisins which if you have those things you should definitely try, but this is more of a loose recipe when you have few ingredients and even less inspiration.

At its core, you mash the sardines in the pan and when warmed and mashed you add the drained pasta and some reserved pasta water. I’ve created a list of things you could add before and after, but even if you didn’t have any of those things, it would still be a nice, simple meal. Experiment with the add-ins, do you want to go intense with chilli, garlic and anchovy, or do you want to have the lightness of lemon zest, parsley and sweet shallots?

Before:
Garlic, finely chopped shallots or onions (softened, preferably caramelised), tomato puree, cherry tomatoes, chilli flakes, fresh chillis, anchovies, capers

After:
Toasted breadcrumbs, finely chopped parsley, pine nuts, toasted ground almonds, lemon zest

N.B. Cheese on top of fish is breaking a cardinal Italian rule and the breadcrumbs are far preferable giving a lovely crunch, but if you have parmesan and you really want it, then I don’t think you should be denying yourself right now!

Receita em PT

Isto não é bem uma receita mas sim uma espécie de guia


Têm massa? Uma lata de sardinhas? Sabem que podem fazer algo reconfortante com poucos ingredientes?

Óptimo. Idealmente, a massa seria esparguete, ou bucatini ou linguine (integral funciona muito bem com peixes gordo) mas aceitar que nem tudo será ideal é a grande lição que estou a aprender. As sardinhas, também seria bom serem das com molho de tomate, mas se forem apenas com azeite também serve, usem o que têm. Há um maravilhoso prato tradicional siciliano, pasta con sarde, com funcho, açafrão e passas, que têm mesmo de experimentar mas isto é mais uma receita do desenrasca para quando temos poucos ingredientes e pouquíssima paciência. 

Então, esmaguem as sardinhas na panela e quando esta estiver quente e com pasta de sardinha, juntem a massa cozida e alguma da água da cozedura, e envolvam. Agora, criei uma pequena lista de coisas que podem juntar ou antes ou depois, mas mesmo que não tenham nenhuma destas coisas, a refeição será simples e agradável. Experimentem com estas adições, querem sabor mais intenso, usem malagueta, alho e anchovas, ou preferem a frescura de raspa de limão, salsa e chalotas doces?

Antes:
Alho, chalotas bem picadinhas ou cebolas (cozinhadas, preferencialmente caramelizadas), puré ou pasta de tomate, tomates cereja, malaguetas secas em pó, ou malaguetas frescas, anchovas, alcaparras.

Depois:
Pão ralado tostado, salsa picada, pinhões, amêndoa picada tostada, raspa de limão.

Nota: queijo com peixe é uma heresia em Itália, e por isso é preferível usarem pão ralado tostado para algo crocante, mas se vos apetecer parmesão, acho que esta não é a ocasião para se negarem o que seja!
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