Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sardines in Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil over Pasta

In soybean, olive or sunflower oil - lightly smoked, brinned, kippered and tomato sauced - there is more to canned fish than tuna in plain water. I always find small canned fillets cheaply at my local 99c only Store, including: herring, sardine, mackerel and anchovy. In my cupboard you will see all of these. And, the tastiest way I've found to use tinned gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate, is sauteed in olive oil and paired with pasta.

Usually in packages smaller than cans of tuna, anywhere from 2 - 4 ounces, these fat finger-sized  fillets of fish are perfect for a single after-work dinner serving. Sardines in Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil over Spaghetti is my latest budget entree. It's quick and easy to prepare, and most of all, delectable. What more could you ask for from the fugal Blogger du Cuisine.

This recipe is influenced by our local Queen of Pizza, Nancy Silverton, co-owner/chef (with Maria Batali) of always-crowded Mozza Pizzeria. She wrote a book a few years ago called "A Twist of the Wrist," were she created a host of entrees using canned and jarred edibles. I'm too cheap to buy the book, but I check it out from my local library when I need inspiration. While this dish is not in it, I like to think she would approve.

If canned sardines come in oil, all you have to do is pour it in a skillet, oil and all, heat through, then add it over fresh cooked pasta. The sardines I used for this recipe came packed in tomato sauce. I could have heated it in the same way, but thought pouring in a couple tablespoons of olive oil would add just the right amount of richness.

I have a friend who hates the taste of fish (he's an official 99 Cent Player and featured in my video here) -- he doesn't know what he is missing. However, I do understand the apprehension of using canned fish. Fish is always marketed as fresh caught, frozen fresh, or farm raised. That's the best way to get it. While canned tuna is what almost everyone is familiar with; I wanted to try a different tinned protein and found this recipe preparation the best -- especially when I can get it all at the right price!

So next time you run across canned fish on sale, stock up -- and give my Sardines in Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil over Spaghetti a try. It's certainly cheap enough, quick to do, and a tasty change of pace.

Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 package pasta - I used spaghetti, but you could use any type you have on hand.
  • 1 can of fish - a 2 to 4 ounce can. I used a 3.75 ounce tin of Sardines in Tomato Sauce.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil - okay to use less oil. If you are using canned fish in oil, then use that oil instead of adding olive oil.
  • 2 tablespoons of dried (or fresh grated) parmesan - optional. To add when serving.
  • Water for boiling pasta

Start pasta boiling in a pot of water according to package directions. I usually shave off a minute or two of cooking time for al dente pasta. Since this recipe is for a single serving, I use a third of a package of pasta (about 6 ounces.) You can add more pasta if you want to.

In a skillet add olive oil and the can of fish. You only need to heat up the fish in oil and tomato sauce for about 2-4 minutes, over a low/medium heat. When fish, oil and tomato sauce starts to simmer, turn it down to lowest heat.

Pasta should finish cooking in about the time the fish with sauce is heated through. Put drained pasta on a plate and top with the fish, oil and tomato sauce. The fish is delicate because it is already cooked so carefully add it last -- so it doesn't shred into unrecognizable flakes (unless you are squeamish looking at whole fish.) Finally top with dried or fresh shaved parmesan cheese (optional.)

This pasta dish is delish with almost any tinned fish you find on sale, except salted anchovies. (They are typically used one or two fillets at a time to flavor a pasta sauce.) If the fish is stored in oil, then try it with just that -- kind of like my John Cassavetes Red Pepper, Garlic and Olive Oil with Pasta (click here to see my recipe.) If you want a tomato sauce (and can't find Sardines in Tomato Sauce,) then add half a small can of tomato sauce (that's 4 ounces, from an 8 ounce can) when heating up the fish in oil. If fish is canned in water, then just add the whole thing, and spoon on a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and tomato sauce.

This is a versatile dish, so you could also saute some onion and garlic first, then add the fish. Add lightly steamed broccoli or spinach for some needed freshness to this pasta dish. You can also saute the fish with some favorite fresh herbs (or dried.) And, feel free to use any pasta you have on hand.


Dinahsoar said...

This is a great idea and a good way to get those omega 3's. I eat a lot of canned fish because it is a healthy bargain. I'm going to try this one day at lunch, make a single serving.

Laura (lap) said...

This post inspire me to use the sardines in tomato sauce in my cupboard! I sauteed onion in olive oil, added the can plus some green olives and served it over whole wheat penne. Super yummy and easy -my roommate deemed it "gourmet"! My tomato sauce said "with chile" and it was just the right heat. Capers also would've been tasty I think.

99 Cent Chef said...

yeah, seafood in cans are tasty, just need a recipe, and you are in the right place to find one ;-p

Unknown said...

I love sardines and there's always canned sardines in my pantry. It's nutritious and a great way to get Omega 3's. I grew up eating sardines back home in the Philippines. Your recipe inspired me to try it with pasta. The only difference I did was, I added a few shakes of ground turmeric and parboiled broccoli florets and I used the sardines with tomato sauce hot chilli And since I love garlic, I put extra nd I used spaghettini, it cooks faster. :-) I just finished my plate and it is yummy!! I have enough leftover for dinner tomorrow!!

Drew Palermo said...

Used to eat them with peanut butter or almond butter and cooked cabbage. Now I've shaped the recipe into combining sardines with roasted sliced golden beets and sweet onion with cooked cauliflower or broccoli.

Tried a variety of brands, but have been getting the Vital Choice sardines (in either water or tomato sauce), as they've been on sale here: (specifically the tomato sauce version). Big time omega 3's (over 3 grams), and real cheap at $47 for 2 dozen cans (plus a 10% coupon code if you can find one- think I used awvc16)

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