Sardinian Style Spaghetti

Rich with flavors from the sea balanced with sweetness from the tomatoes paired with Spanish wine from Menica,  Petalos

Rich with flavors from the sea balanced with sweetness from the tomatoes paired with Spanish wine from Menica, Petalos

One Sunday morning after getting home super late from a wonderful night out with friends, we rolled out of bed at 10am. Indeed, we slept in uber late, waking up still sleepy and without much motivation for anything. But given that we hit our pillows at 3:30a, I feel you understand. We ain't no spring chickens anymore.

So after our morning coffee and a little work, starving pangs hit our stomachs and brains at the same time. JC was jonesing for pasta, and no big surprise, so was I. It was Sunday after all.  Our pasta day.  I do feel quite responsible, and delighted at the same time, as I take full credit for conditioning him to crave pasta on Sundays. The two just go together.

We truly had zilch in the house. Not even parsley, which is considered a constant round these parts. I do, however, try to keep some staples in the pantry for just these occasions.  Knowing we had anchovies, sardines, garlic, red pepper flakes, I suggested a Sardinian style pasta from our stash. When I yammer on about creating something from nothing, this is exactly it.  Scrounging around the pantry, and fridge to see what might be viable options.  It's moments like these that having quality pantry items can be your hunger pangs' salvation.

JC was up for the challenge and immediately ran to carry out our plan.  I must say, he executed this perfectly, creating a spicy, salty mix reminiscent of that sexy Italian island.

Now, there are tons of recipes for Sardinian style pasta.  Some incorporate raisins and spices and other combinations which are all fantastic. And I implore you to experiment with them. But when you want pasta fast, easy and without having much in the fridge, but still delivering bold flavors, then try this one.  It will knock your socks off.  Again, the key is the quality of the canned ingredients. The ones we used truly enhanced this dish to the max. Since I work at Despaña, I have access to some delicious products. (And you can too, the website here ships all across the country.) These tiny tins pack so much flavor that you barely need to add anything else.  I will say that both the Spanish and the Italians have a knack for producing some of the best jarred and canned products. 

JC and me in the Italian countryside. Montespertoli, Tuscany

JC and me in the Italian countryside. Montespertoli, Tuscany

So with Spain providing a healthy boost to create the sauce, and Italy providing the idea of combining them together for pasta, it was a lovely marriage that resembles the one between this Italian American gal and her spicy Spanish man.

 
These Spanish fishes are canned at peak freshness and are absolutely delicious.  Despaña carries them both in their stores and website.

These Spanish fishes are canned at peak freshness and are absolutely delicious.  Despaña carries them both in their stores and website.

Ingredients

 

1 - 4 oz. tin sardines in olive oil
1 - 4 oz. tin sardines in hot sauce
1 - 4 oz. tin Baby Surimi Eel
2-4 anchovies, optional
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 c roasted tomatoes
1 T capers, drained and wash in water
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch dried oregano
2/3 c olive oil
1/2 lb spaghetti

 

 

Instructions

Start by slowly heating up oil, red pepper flakes, oregano and garlic.    

Add the two tins of sardines with their liquids and eels, but draining the tin of baby eels first.

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Add the roasted tomatoes and let the sauce warm through.  That's all it takes.  You should not need to add salt to this dish, but always taste and season according to your taste bud.

This may look strange, but these roasted tomatoes keep in the fridge for weeks due to the amount of oil.  It keeps them cured as it congeals protecting them.  Use some of that oil in the sauce, too.  

This may look strange, but these roasted tomatoes keep in the fridge for weeks due to the amount of oil.  It keeps them cured as it congeals protecting them.  Use some of that oil in the sauce, too.  

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Spoon some of the sauce on the bottom of the bowl, swirl the spaghetti on top, then spoon more sauce and add grated cheese.

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Honestly, this couldn't be simpler. It's all about using a few good ingredients and warming them up so they can swim together.  Pour yourself a big glass of red wine. We choose a Mencia wine, Petalos from the Bierzo region of Spain. This was the perfect way to stave off the hunger pains and soothe our European souls.

Viva Italia, and ok Spain helped too.

 

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P.S. Happy birthday to my fellow Piscean friend, Dianne., who is loyal reader and supporter. And although she may not be a fan of sardines, it's still appropriate in honoring the glorious versatility of fish!

Sunday Brunch - Part Homemade/Part Not

A bounty of yum.

A bounty of yum.

Hosting a brunch can be easy, or a lot of work.  It can be made up of all the usual suspects, or a mash up of the expected and the unexpected.  I am never one to shy away from hard work, but I am also a huge fan of working smarter not harder.  So the idea of creating a sumptuous brunch spread that would serve up that mix with as much ease as possible was what I was aiming for.

One of the keys to achieving success; a good mash up of homemade items with banging good store bought items.  This greatly cuts down on the amount work.  Another huge help is asking guests to bring an item or two.  I'm sure your guests, as do ours, always ask, "what can I bring?" This is the perfect time to say "Bagels, or lox".  Or both!

Such was the case when we hosted a Sunday family brunch.  Our guests provided the bagels, lox and cream cheese. While we prepared the remaining dishes. 

For me, the perfect brunch is a like a moveable feast.  As with any party that isn't a sit down meal, there should be a decent variety of items ranging in temperatures and protein choices. A to and fro of movement.  Nibbling here, picking there. Foods that can last for several hours of conversation without too much fuss.

Here is what we offered up, and what was consumed with zeal.

When you buy quality products, the best plan is to let them shine with maybe just a few embellishments. That was the case with all of the "some assembly required" items. The Spanish sardines were enhanced with cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Spanish sardines with cucumber and fresh grape tomatoes.

Spanish sardines with cucumber and fresh grape tomatoes.

Cucumber slices bring a crisp, freshness to the intense sardine.

Cucumber slices bring a crisp, freshness to the intense sardine.

Plate them simply and use the rich oil they are packed in.

Plate them simply and use the rich oil they are packed in.

You've seen me use boquerones before. This brunch crowd loves them so, of course, I would serve them.  These fresh anchovies dressed with chopped garlic and parsley and good olive oil always get gobbled up.

I selected fish shaped dishes for these two under the sea selections. I love the shape and cobalt color. I've had these dishes for 30 years. Yes, you read that number correctly.

I selected fish shaped dishes for these two under the sea selections. I love the shape and cobalt color. I've had these dishes for 30 years. Yes, you read that number correctly.

Cheese/Charcuterie platters are another easy to assemble ahead offering that everyone loves.  And a perfect brunch item.  So go ahead and create one chock full of your favorite combinations.

It's always good to have a full board of charcuterie and cheese mixed with fruits, olives and nuts.

It's always good to have a full board of charcuterie and cheese mixed with fruits, olives and nuts.

The lentils were partially homemade, in that I used delicious precooked lentils that I get from Despaña but enhanced them by sautéing onions, carrots and celery then adding the lentils to warm through.  That simple.

This group of guests hadn't had my Eggplant Gemolata dish yet, so why not make it again. I did alter the feta topping, keeping it simple and not using the sun-dried tomatoes, olives and lemon zest but adding oven roasted tomatoes to finish the dish.  It was a huge hit with no left overs. This is one of those dishes that you can prep, then cook right before serving.  The flavors are powerful and beautifully melded. It has never let me down, no matter the event or the guest.

Eggplant with feta gremolata.

Eggplant with feta gremolata.

A little something for the meat lovers. Pork belly, lovingly prepared by JuanCarlos, cut in bite sized chunks and simply served on a wooden board.

Pork belly does take some time, as it is twiced cooked. Slow oven roasted to render the fat, then seared crispy in a skillet.

Pork belly does take some time, as it is twiced cooked. Slow oven roasted to render the fat, then seared crispy in a skillet.

The usual brunch suspects, bagels, lox, cream cheese are always welcome and always the perfect Sunday comfort food.

Bagels, lox, cream cheese, capers. Also served was Sushi grade Salmon Sashimi.

Bagels, lox, cream cheese, capers. Also served was Sushi grade Salmon Sashimi.

Eggplant, lentils and a bowl of the extra oven roasted tomatoes.

Eggplant, lentils and a bowl of the extra oven roasted tomatoes.

Make your life easy with the table setting.  Throw a graphic cloth down the middle as a landing strip for all the dishes. Then a simple stack of all the right plates, bowls and utensils in an easy to grab fashion keeps the laid back feeling going.

Finish with a little something sweet, Apple Tart.  And that's how part homemade/part not is done.

Create the vibe you want by selecting food that fits that mood.  A spread that spreads love.  One that invites conversation and fills their bellies and their souls.  What a great way to mark a Sunday, or any brunch day.

 
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