We’ve all heard of the benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet which is composed primarily of vegetables, fish, olive oil, and wine. This Mediterranean pasta dish uses them all. Mediterraneans are fond of anchovies and sardines, both of which contain good Omega-3 oils. They not only add amazingly rich flavor but are also quite inexpensive. Best of all, you can have this delicious, filling meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Mediterranean Pasta Recipe
1 pound angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta
2 cans (about 8 ounces total) smoked sardines in olive oil, oil reserved
1/2 cup minced sweet onions
4 cloves garlic, fine-minced
1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes, or to taste
8 large (about 1/2 cup packed) oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves, sliced into thin strips
3 roasted red pepper halves, patted dry and cut into thin strips (jarred is fine)
1 cup white wine
1/2 pound fresh baby spinach leaves, stems trimmed
10 large leaves fresh basil, chiffonade cut (see Notes)
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese (not the shelf-stable stuff), plus additional for optional garnish
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente. (Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.)
While the pasta is cooking, drain sardines, reserving the oil. (You should have about 4 tablespoons of oil. If not, make up the difference with oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.) Roughly chop sardines and set aside.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of the reserved sardine oil and the minced onions. Gently saute until onions soften, but do not let them brown. Add minced garlic and red chile flakes. Cook, stirring often, 1 additional minute. Add the white wine and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook until the wine has reduced by half.
Add remaining sardine oil, chopped sardines, roasted red peppers, and spinach. Gently stir, trying not to break up the sardine chunks, until spinach begins to wilt. Do not over-cook or the spinach will become slimy. Immediately stir in reserved 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, basil, and parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt, if needed.
Toss with the cooked angel hair pasta. Serve with a sprinkle of additional Parmesan cheese, a side salad, and fresh artisan bread.
Yield: 4 servings
• Chiffonade is a french term which literally translates to “made of rags.” Traditionally herbs and vegetables are thin-sliced into strips, reminiscent of rag strips. To chiffonade the basil: stack basil leaves on top of each other. Roll into a cigar shape and slice the stack cross-wise into thin strips.
• Do use the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes. Dry-packed will be too chewy with this short cooking method.
• You can use your own homemade roasted red peppers, if you like, but the jarred ones will save time and are readily available. Leftovers are great in salads.
• Fresh regular spinach may be substituted for baby spinach. Trim ends and tear large leaves in half.
Mediterranean Pasta Recipe Photo ©2017 Peggy Filippone