Sardines seem to be having a moment in the sun. They’re not just an easy-to-prepare bachelor food, they’re also, apparently, health food—just see Alton Brown.
But I’m in it for the flavor. Gather a mess of Mediterranean ingredients and go to town. Chop up some pitted black olives, sweet and tangy sundried tomatoes, and fennel to complement the pungent fish. Throw in a bunch of peppery arugula leaves for good measure. Open the sardine can over a plastic bag, drain out the stinky oil, and dispose of the can immediately.
The mix of ingredients is salty, fresh, and pungent, and the sardines are fishy, but in a welcome way. Tasting this dish, I was converted into a sardine lover. If you’d like to join the cult, bookmark this to make in the early days of 2011, when a flavorful, yet healthful and cheap pasta sounds just about right.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Sardine Linguine with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives
¼ cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 can boneless skinless brisling sardines in oil, drained
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup finely minced fennel bulb
2 cloves garlic, minced with salt
1 large handful baby arugula
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
¾ lb linguine
In large bowl combine olives, sundried tomatoes, sardines, olive oil, fennel, garlic, arugula, and 1 tablespoon of pine nuts. Add red pepper flakes to taste, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Squeeze half of the lemon, and toss to combine, breaking up sardines slightly (you still want them in chunks, not pulverized). Set aside for 30 minutes.
Bring large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add linguine. Cook until al dente according to package directions, about 11 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain in colander.
Scoop linguine into bowl with sardine mixture. Toss to coat, drizzling in reserved water as needed to help sauce coat strands. Top with remaining pine nuts, juice from remaining half lemon, and freshly ground pepper.