JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pasta con sarde

Now then, this is not what you'd call an "authentic" dish, but I'm a little suspicious of that term, because it seems to me somewhat meaningless, or even an excuse for self-regarding chefs to lecture the rest of us. No two dishes are ever exactly the same, so authenticity should only be applied to the method, rather than exact quantities of ingredients. Dishes which are labelled "authentic" are ones which have been handed down through the generations, and it is only very recently that cooks have been able to get the ingredients that they wanted when they wanted them any day of the year - which means that cooks have traditionally used what is to hand.

So when I decided on the way home from work that what I wanted to eat more than anything was pasta with sardine sauce, I knew there was no question of making it with fresh sardines, or even salted ones, neither of these being in the larder. I used what was to hand: tinned sardines (in olive oil, well worth the few extra pennies). And I used the "authentic" method. It's nicer when you use fresh sardines, but this is better than not at all, and certainly better than with the tired-looking sardines that are all I can get locally at the moment.

Sardines are amongst the highest in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease in a number of different ways. Even canned sardines retain this advantage (canned tuna fish doesn't, sadly for those who like a tuna sandwich for their lunch). This recipe is for people who wouldn't normally choose to eat sardines, as the result is a very mild, though tasty sauce. I know that doesn't seem to make much sense - so give it a try! (Sorry, no photograph - partly because it's not very beautiful, and partly because we ate it up double quick!)

spaghetti or linguine
3 medium onions
4 tablespoons pinenuts
2 tablespoons sultanas
1 chilli
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
white wine
a lemon
one or two tins of sardines, depending on how much you like them!

Peel and chop the onions, then sweat gently in a little olive oil for 15-20 minutes without browning. Add the pinenuts and sultanas, the fennel seeds and the finely chopped chilli (I had to use a tablespoon or two of chilli jam, because there wasn't any fresh chilli either). Stir all this about for a few minutes, then add the sardines and a glass of wine. Cook this down for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta (put the pan of water on after you've added the fish to the sauce). When all is ready, zest the lemon, squeeze the juice into the sauce, then mix the sauce carefully into the drained pasta. Sprinkle with lemon zest, and some chopped herbs if you have them.

These quantities will sauce enough pasta for 3 or 4, depending on appetite. If you make too much, it's good on a pizza, in a sandwich, on its own.

This is an entry for Heart of the Matter 3, which is hosted this month by Ilva at Lucullian Delights. The theme for May is heart-healthy pasta, something most of us know about without really thinking: lots of vegetables, not much meat, no cream or butter, and preferably not much cheese either. Ilva and I would really love to hear your ideas, which we'll post on the HotM website (linked back to your blog), where together we are building up a resource of heart-healthy recipes for everyone to share. Send the link to your entry to i_beretta AT yahoo DOT it, by 22 May.

1 comment:

Ilva said...

wow, you are the first out! Great dish!