I think every post I’ve made has mentioned sardines. Their slight saltiness is a great addition to so many things, they are really good for you and are a pretty cheap ingredient to boot. When you buy them canned, you can get them packed in water, olive oil, mustard or tomato juice. Usually I get the ones packed in oil, and I’ll use a little bit of that oil in whatever I’m doing with them.
So how do you eat these guys? Well, one of my favorite ways to eat them is mashed up with goat cheese, a little avocado, salt, and pepper on toast. But some of us think that that isn’t enough for a meal because we are really judgmental or our mothers are in our heads about eating balanced meals and this isn’t balanced enough because there are no vegetables and I’m totally not talking about myself. So I also love this really simple pasta dish with arugula and Parmesan cheese. The best thing about this pasta deal is that it’s really flexible; you can sub out the arugula for your favorite leafy green (I really like spinach too) and the Parmesan for another hard cheese (or or or Goat Cheese if you’re feeling rich (that was not a pun on purpose (A parenthetical to a parenthetical? Really?)))
Basically, what’s going to go on here is we’re going to make a really basic sauce with some sauteed onions, mushrooms, and sardines, and toss spaghetti with the sauce, cheese, and arugula. The heat from the pasta and the sauce wilts the arugula just a bit, which is capital “g” great. Here’s the detail:
5 oz Spaghetti (or Linguine or Fettuccine)
½ tin sardines in olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ large onion, diced
3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup + 1 tbsp vegetable broth OR sweet vermouth OR bourbon
1 teaspoon flour
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente*.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the onion, and a dash of salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is sort of translucent, about 5ish minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. You know that you’re ready to go when the mushrooms have gone from a sort of dry looking beige to a nice, damp looking bronze color. Taste this guy. Is it good yet? The answer is probably yes. If you like your food a little salty, hold off on adding more salt. How about spicy? Throw in some red pepper flakes.
Now, for a little bit of a difficult part. We’re going to make this into a sauce by reducing the broth/vermouth/bourbon in the pan. If you know how to do that, skip to the next graph. If that doesn’t make sense, keep reading and I’ll teach you how to do it. Take that broth or booze and add about 2 tablespoons of it to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium high, and let the mushrooms and onions absorb the liquid. What we’re trying to do is make sure that there’s always about 1 tablespoon of liquidy stuff in the pan. So as the liquid looks like its almost gone, add more. We’re going for a sauce with about the consistency of gravy. If you don’t use all of the stock/booze, that’s okay. And if you need a little more, that’s cool too. When you think you’ve got it to a good place, taste it again. Does it need more salt? Now you can add a little more. Still not spicy enough? You know what to do.
When you’re satisfied with your reduction, add one more tablespoon of the liquid, the sardines and a sprinkle of basil, oregano and thyme. Mash up the sardines while they are in the pan so that they sort of become one with our reduction, and let that simmer for about 2 more minutes. Finally, combine the pasta, the reduction, and the cheese. Mix it well, and then eat it with your face.