Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Food Desert Project - A Pasta Chi Sardi (Simple Pasta with Sardines)

I tend to trip lightly throughout the internet, trolling recipes to convert for this project as I go...but I feel I should shout-out some of the places where I find my best idea.  In this case, I'd like to bring your attention to two:  I originally found this recipe on Mark Bittman's Minimalist Chef blog in the New York Times, but as usual, when I researched further, it also appeared on the Wednesday Chef (featuring one of my husband's very favorite actors!)  These two blogs are well worth the visit!

While I knew the anchovy version of this dish, I was delighted to find another way to work sardines into this project.  Turns out, the sardine version of this dish is famous all over Sicily, while the anchovy version is usually reserved for emergencies, when fishing boats can't get good, fresh sardines.  Often this dish is associated with the lenten feast of St. Joseph - in which case the breadcrumbs represent the sawdust in Joseph's carpentry shop - simultaneously celebrating modest pleasure and hard work.  Of course, in the food desert, we must use canned sardines instead of fresh - but I think this delicious, quick dish works quite well with them.

A Pasta Chi Sardi


1 tin of sardines, drained
2 tbsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dry oregano
1/4 cup wine
2 slices stale bread 
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tsp caper brine
2 tbsp EVOO
spaghetti noodles 

If you remember to do this ahead of time, put the onion, parsley, oregano and wine together in a bowl and allow them to soak overnight in the refrigerator.  If you forget (like I always do) combine the three in a microwave-safe container and microwave on high for 30 seconds, then allow to rest for 10 minutes until the onions and herbs are fully hydrated.  In this case, I used red wine, which does discolor the onions a bit but still tastes good.

Begin preparing 2 portions of the spaghetti as directed on the package (If you make a tube shape with your dry spaghetti, a dinner portion should have about the same diameter as a quarter.)  You should be able to make the sauce in the time the pasta cooks - make sure to reserve a bit of the cooking water.

001Crumble the stale bread into large chunks and process in the blender or food processor until you have coarse crumbs.  Pour a tablespoon of EVOO into a hot skillet, and add the breadcrumbs, stirring until they are toasted and crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Drain the onions and herbs and add them to the pan with the additional tablespoon of EVOO.  Saute until fragrant, then add the capers and carefully add the sardines (try to keep them as whole as possible) and gently heat until it is warmed through.  Add the remaining wine, caper brine, and enough pasta cooking water to bring the whole mixture together in a sauce.

Mix the cooked spaghetti and the sauce together onto plates.  Top with a generous portion of the breadcrumbs and serve.


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