Maximalist sardine + minimalist anchovy pasta

Two more all-pantry fish pasta suppers! For those of us who can never remember to defrost their meat.

Maximalist sardine pasta:

Boil pasta (I used whole wheat thin spaghetti) in a large-ish pan according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, chop several sun-dried (or fresh cherry or grape) tomatoes, some pitted black olives, and some sultanas into small bits. You could also tear up some peppery arugula leaves and add them to the mix. Put these all aside in your serving bowl, leaving the chopping board free to mince a very hearty amount of garlic (several cloves).

Drain the pasta and set aside in the serving bowl, mixing it up with the chopped ingredients so the residual oil from the tomatoes and olives coats the pasta and stops it from sticking.

Wipe down the pan and add the olive oil from a tin of sardines to one side of the pan. Sautee the garlic in the oil until soft and almost brown; meanwhile, toast slivered almonds or pine nuts on the other (dry) side of the pan (2-3mins, moving them around now and then so they don’t burn). Then add the sardines themselves to the pan, flaking them into tiny, almost pesto-y bits with a fork/spatula. Finally, add the chopped ingredients and pasta back in, stir well, and heat through. Season with crushed red pepper flakes (ground red pepper, paprika, and/or black pepper will work too).

Verdict: This is essentially an amped up version of this Sicilian not-pesto and is ABSOLUTELY worth all the extra chopping and mixing and ingredient-gathering. But if all you want to do is open a can, then,

Minimalist anchovy pasta:

Tinned anchovies are saltier, meltier, and more intense than tinned sardines, so all you have to do is: 1) cook pasta; 2) drain pan; 3) add tinned anchovies in olive oil and flake the fillets with spatula until they dissolve into a sauce. The end!

Tip: One small tin of anchovies can have two-thirds of your recommended daily salt intake, so I often use just half the fillets and all the oil, storing the other half in a small container with a top-up of fresh extra virgin olive oil. The leftover fillets should last a week or more in the fridge.

Honey-baked chicken and peaches

Preheat the oven to 425F. Meanwhile, take boneless skinless chicken thighs from the refrigerator, spread out the meat to an even thickness, and coat in a few small drops of honey, some oyster sauce, and LOTS of garlic powder. You can also add a bit of pressed ginger or curry powder if you like more spice.

Line a baking pan with foil and spray with a light coating of baking spray. Place the (still chilled) chicken into the oven and bake for about 15mins. (I suspect 450F for 12mins might work even better.) About 12mins in, drain a small can of tinned peaches, and add a few slices to the baking pan.

Remove the chicken and peaches to your serving plate and let rest for a few minutes. If serving with brown rice, transfer it to the baking pan during this time to soak up the remaining juices. Top with toasted almonds or pistachios.

Verdict: YES. Almost no clean-up, too.

Passive smoked salmon pasta

This dish is ready in minutes and relies almost entirely on the contributions of others.

Boil pasta (whole wheat thin spaghetti works surprisingly well, though I thought regular semolina would be better) in a pan according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Wipe pan dry.
On medium heat, add a small amount of olive oil on one side of the pan and sautee a fair bit of garlic. Add some pine nuts to the other (dry) side and let them toast for about 2-3mins (optional).
Finally, add alfredo sauce, flaked salmon (cold smoked is my favourite, but hot smoked or even leftover baked or pan-seared salmon will work), and the drained pasta and combine. Garnish with parsley, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and/or a bit of lemon juice. Good hot or cold.

Curried chicken breasts + creamy pasta salad

This recipe makes two meals: a curried chicken breast to serve hot with veggies or grains (I like the microwaveable insta-steam green beans and potatoes, for instance), and a cold pasta salad for later.

Take one large or two small portions of chicken breast out of the refrigerator. Season with some salt and lots of dry curry powder.
Heat the oven to 425. Place the chicken in a small baking tray that’s been lightly misted with olive oil spray (if there’s too much oil, the spice rub will run), and cook for about 20mins until done.

Meanwhile, boil pasta shells for the second dish, drain thoroughly, and leave to cool in a food storage container. Once pasta is slightly cooled, add a bit of light mayonnaise, so that the oil in the mayo helps to stop the pasta from clumping. Refrigerate.
Then, prepare the vegetables or grains for the first meal.

When chicken is done, take it out of the oven and place on your serving plate. Let it rest for at least five minutes before serving. Let the second portion sit and cool even further while you’re eating.

When you’re ready to prep the second dish, cut the second portion of chicken into small cubes. Smother the cubes with even more curry powder, before mixing into the chilled pasta from before. Add a little more mayo and garlic powder to taste.

Verdict: Great. Chickpeas and/or sweet corn should work instead of (or in addition to) the pasta, too.