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.

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