I usually have a pretty good idea of how tasty something I’m making will turn out to be, but this took me aback with how well it turned out. It was totally beyond expectations and also pretends to be fancy, even though it’s essentially a store cupboard recipe. It’d be a good one to serve friends at a dinner party, with a bottle of Mediterranean wine.
To give you an idea of how easy this was, I based it on a John West tinned sardines recipe.
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 onion (optional — we just have a lot of onions at the moment)
Tinned sardines in olive oil, 120g (I guess you could use the tomatoey kind but it might confuse the flavours)
Tinned squid, ~100g (I used this which I picked up in Waitrose on a whim — they sell it in fake squid ink and olive oil)
Mozzarella pearls, ~100-200g
- Slice aubergine cross-wise into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Brush each side with olive oil and grill for about 8 minutes, turning once. (I fried the aubergine but next time I’d try grilling — frying meant I went overboard with the oil and there’s oil in the other ingredients, so it turned out a bit aglio olio-y.)
- Cook spaghetti according to instructions on packet.
- Chop onions and garlic finely. Saute until the onions are soft and clear and the garlic doesn’t smell sharp anymore.
- Add sardines and squid, along with as much of the oil/sauce as you think best. I held all the oil from the sardine tin (see above re oil), but chucked in all the salsa negra from the squid tin. Heat through.
- Add aubergine whenever it’s ready.
- Stir in spaghetti, mozzarella pearls and a generous pinch of chilli flakes. Toss until mozzarella begins to melt and becomes stringy. (I don’t have the upper body strength to toss our wok so I just stir things around.)
- Season with salt and pepper if you like. Upon tasting I found that it didn’t need any more flavour but it’s up to you.
- Eat! It’s super tasty!
I suspect what makes the difference in this recipe is the quality of the tinned sardines and squid. Not that I’m any expert, but if there is a range available, I’d get the stuff that seems better. Obviously you can make the recipe just with tinned sardines if you can’t get squid or don’t like it, though I do think the squid makes it more special.