I'm a hardcore sardine enthusiast. I eat them a lot in the warmer months, as eating them doesn't involve turning a stove on. Or I eat them in front of the television right out of the tin, with triskets and whole grain mustard and a glass of wine. Oh and with tiny pickles. Or I eat them at work, on a bench outside, with a book. Or with a friend. Sardines are also good for sharing. They're also good for your prostate if you have one of those. I don't. But I still eat them. I hear they are packed with omega 3s.
The other day I had lunch at the wonderful Jimmy's Food Store, in Dallas. While I was waiting for my Cuban, I roamed the store and you'll never guess what I found. Yes, sardines. Only when I got home and put them away did I notice the "con peperoncino" on the package. Oh no. I was too afraid to chance eating these straight and decided that incorporating them into a dish would be best.
Oh, and P.S. this dish cost two dollars to make (assuming you already have a few of the staples in your pantry ~ capers, bread crumbs and spaghetti, olive oil). And it takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. I halved the recipe because I only had one tin of sardines, double if you're making this for four people.
Recipe adapted from Spaghetti with Sardines, Dill and Fried Capers, Gourmet 2009.
1 tin sardines in olive oil (get the hot pepper ones!)
2 servings of spaghetti (approximately 1/3-1/2 pound)
1/3 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
1-2 handfuls Panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry
2 garlic cloves
Cook spaghetti (I used angel hair) in a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente. Fry capers in a skillet with a few rounds of olive oil, until they bloom, about two minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer capers to paper towel to drain. Toast breadcrumbs in same skillet, stirring, until golden. About 2-3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and toss with capers, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Add sardines to skillet with their oil over medium-high heat. Force garlic through garlic press directly into the skillet. Sauté until sardines are golden in spots. About 2 minutes.
Reserve 1/3-1/2 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to skillet with cooking water and season with salt and pepper. Add a little bit more olive oil, only if needed. Toss until pasta is coated and sauce is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Top with seasoned bread crumbs.
It's also great served cold the next day.