Spaghetti with sardines and chilli

Serves 4
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

In Italy this is quite often made with red mullet, but small fillets from oily sardines, even mackerel, work just as well. The Sicilian version would contain pine nuts and currants in that traditional sweet and savoury style. Chilli would be used when currants weren't available and sometimes fried breadcrumbs are scattered on top. It's an ingenious way to make a tasty pasta sauce with a few fish fillets that wouldn't stretch to a full meal. You can even get away with using a can of sardines.

Try to make sure all your bones are removed from the fish beforehand - just cut along either side - although sardine bones are tiny and pretty harmless.

4 tinned anchovy fillets finely chopped
6 medium sized fresh sardine fillets, boned
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium chilli, seeded and finely chopped or a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
4 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50g butter
1tbsp chopped fennel tops, or dill (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g or more of fresh or dried spaghetti

Put the anchovies and sardine fillets in a pan with the olive oil, garlic, chilli and tomatoes, season and cook on a very gentle heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often until the sardines are beginning to break down into the oil. Add the fennel leaves or dill if using and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the instructions and drain. To serve, add the butter to the sauce, re-season if necessary and toss the spaghetti in with the sauce.

Comments