pasta

Onions and poppyseeds

It seemed a bit insane that I had never posted about bialys, but when I put that little ditty up about buttermilk scones last week it came to my attention that for all the doughnuts that have appeared on this site, bialys were never even mentioned. Let’s fix that. Bialys are, many people say, like bagels. Except they aren’t. They aren’t boiled before they are baked, they don’t have holes in the centers, and they certainly aren’t hawked at chain coffee shops and airport deli counters across the nation. Most importantly, bialys don’t (at least as far as I know) come in dozens of flavors; they are flavored with the perfect duo of onions and poppyseeds.

Bialys – named, again, as far as I know, after their hometown of Bialystok, Poland – are mainly found in New York. There used to be a great bialy bakery in the Fairfax neighborhood of L.A., but that place closed despite the many bags of bialys we would buy whenever we stopped in. Biannual customers cannot, I’m afraid, keep such an operation afloat.

There are not, in my experience (correct me, please!) fabulous bialys to be found in San Francisco. One company makes them, but they also make pretzels and the similarity between the two makes me think they are using the same dough. Their bialys are too cooked already to really split and toast, which is how we tend to eat them at our house. What is a girl to do except learn to make bialys and  make a batch every now and again?

As happens at our house when I cook things many times over, a certain amount of customization takes place. My dashing husband — a native of New York for whom I have, more than once, passed off a batch of bialys as a present – likes his bialys small, with just a bit of onion-poppyseed topping – too much of it, he claims, leaves the center portion slightly uncooked and thus difficult to toast. That is his theory. I like lots of the topping. The top cooks just fine, thank you very much, it just doesn’t get as perfectly crispy as the rest of the bialy, which is something any reasonable adult would put up with in exchange for all that extra onion-poppyseed delight. Ever the problem-solver, I started adding some of the topping to the actual dough so I get all that delicious onion-y flavor even when putting less on top so that he can get all his crazy crispy on.

All that to say that last time I made bialys I ended up with extra onion-poppyseed goodness. I couldn’t bear to throw it away, so it sat on the counter in our winter-in-San-Francisco freezing kitchen for a day. That day happened to end up being one during which I had tons to do and it was basically crappy outside so who wanted to go to the store. I followed the path of absolute least resistance. I boiled up some pasta, tossed it with butter, black pepper, and the onion-poppyseed yumminess, and topped it all with some seven-year-old Gouda that my son begs me to buy him for a treat:

We had some salad alongside. It may have been made from a leftover garnish I found on the counter, but that bialy pasta was damn good. Onions and poppyseeds can make anything taste good.

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Elizabeth David’s ragù sauce

I was recently asked to attend a cookbook club. Members all cook a recipe from a book, get together to eat the results, and discuss the book and whatnot. I can attest that it is a delightful way to wile away a Saturday afternoon. The book for this gathering was Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking. I made the honey hazelnut cake, which was good but not exciting. One of those old fashioned cakes that is as good for breakfast as it is for dessert or tea. As I flipped my way through that book it just made me want to read more Elizabeth David again and so her various books came down from the shelf and I soon noticed a few other items I’d like to cook, including her ragù.

The recipe called for “teacups” of things (that’s 6 ounces or 3/4 cup to you and me), and wanted me to put chicken livers in the sauce, which I didn’t really feel like doing. The best part, though, is that she insists that you add the ragù to “hot pasta in a heated dish so that the pasta is thoroughly impregnated with the sauce.”

Reading Elizabeth David just points out what a hack I am. I don’t ever write about impregnating things.

This ragù recipe, however, ain’t too shabby.

p.s. All you cranberry cordial-wanted fanatics, the recipe will be up soon. Very soon.

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The problem with busy and the need for tuna pasta

A giant pet peeve of mine is how everyone talks about how busy they are. It annoys me on two fronts. The more obvious one being that since we’re all so busy it’s not actually unusual enough to warrant quite so much conversation space, can we agree on that? The second part is more troubling. How can one possibly explain what’s going  on when one’s life really is exceptionally booked? Not the normal busy of modern life with its commuting and dual-working couples and the bright and shiny objects that distract us on the internet (you’re welcome!), which is enhanced by the nonsense of parenthood for some of us (not all of parenthood is nonsense, of course, but shuttling people to birthday parties and bringing snacks and all that – you know what I mean, the nonsense part, the part that isn’t what you were thinking about when you thought to yourself “I should have some kids”), but the kind of busy that sort of smacks the wind out of your gut and can leave you paralyzed at your desk wondering how, how on god’s green earth, you can possibly get everything done. Sometimes that sense hits for a few hours, other times it comes in horrifying weeks-long recurring waves. What do we call that when we’re always “busy”?

So I don’t know what to say except I’ve been quite occupied. Of course, much of that occupation has been of my own creation (I am such a hard-ass boss!) and I even enjoy the bulk of the actual work, but if anyone else wants to drive my son to a “Pump It Up” birthday party on Friday night, I wouldn’t complain one bit.

Some of the flurry has been recipe work for others, so I can’t post about that. And the bustle and focus on writing work (which I love!) has meant meals haven’t been all that fascinating around here lately. A new-to-me version of tuna pasta has made several appearances, but an accurate picture of that looks like a dog threw up on your plate. I could style it all pretty, carefully placing tuna and herbs on the tangle of noodles so as not to overwhelm them, but that isn’t going to taste very good and it also won’t be what you end up with if you follow my suggestions below. What you will end up with, however, are empty plates, so I feel my journalistic integrity, or at least my claim to be writing non-fiction, is intact when I try and tempt you with the picture above.

Spaghetti with tuna pepper and lemon

This dish was made at the suggestion of a friend when we needed to eat lunch. These things were all hanging around the kitchen. I’ve since made it three times in the last ten days because it is easy, delicious, fast, and I usually have the ingredients hanging around my house. I try to eat more sardines and less tuna, but the intensity of my work schedule lately has brought out cravings for the deeply familiar. Things from childhood: tuna, peanut butter, apples, carrots, cottage cheese. Sardines would work beautifully in this dish, and are a much better choice in terms of keeping the ocean functioning for a few extra years. If you use tuna, you might want to do as I do and shell out the extra money for hook-and-line caught pacific albacore tuna (here are a few brands I like). I also have been known to make a delicious tuna tomato pasta or a tuna olive and caper pasta. This sardine pasta can really fit the similar bill, too.

Put a pot of water on to boil. While that’s heating up mince a few cloves of garlic, finely chop 4-8 green onions, and mince about a cup (less is fine) of whatever fresh herbs you can scrounge up — I particularly like a mix of flat-leaf parsley, mint, and basil in this dish.

At this point there are two ways to proceed: the faster way or the fewer dishes way.

Faster way: Put a large frying pan over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl to coat the pan, and add the garlic and a few red pepper flakes or a dried chile or two if you want some heat. Let that sizzle for a few seconds and add the green onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add about 1/2 cup white wine, if you like, and a can of tuna, including the juices in the can. Break up the tuna and cook, stirring a bit and perhaps reducing the heat to keep things cooking but not flailing around wildly in there, until the wine is reduced by at least a half, about three minutes.

During all this, when the water starts boiling, add enough salt to make it taste as salty as ocean water and  1/2 pound of spaghetti (this sauce, with a bit more olive oil, could stretch to cover a full pound, but I might consider adding more tuna at that point). Note that this sauce works very well with whole wheat pasta. Cook until almost tender to the bite, when it needs just another minute to cook, remove a cup of the cooking water, and drain the noodles.

Grate some lemon zest over the sauce mixture – about half a lemon’s worth. Add the herbs and at least 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I’ve been known to add more, but I have a thing for black pepper) and stir everything together. Add the reserved cooking liquid, stir to combine, and dump in the pasta. Use tongs or two forks to help combine everything. Cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the pasta is al dente. Squeeze a tablespoon or so of fresh lemon juice over the whole mess, toss again, taste, and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as you see fit. This makes three or four reasonable servings or two “I cranked out the pages this morning and my brain needs carbs” starving-writer servings.

The fewer dishes way: Prep everything while the pasta cooks, but wait to cook the sauce in the pasta-boiling pot after you’ve drained the noodles.

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Fresh tomato lasagna

Can you count the layers?

I can. I did. If we’re willing to count the bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish – and I’m not at all sure we should be – then this lasagna has 18 layers of homemade pasta sheets, fresh tomato sauce, and creamy mozzarella cheese (with a smack of Parmesan on top). If we just want to count the pasta sheets themselves, then the answer is eight, which isn’t too shabby, though I say it myself.

It had been a good long time since I made lasagna, and the last time I made it… well, it was a disappointment at best. That one was too complicated, too many twists and turns and clever ideas and it all became a giant convoluted baked mess. Edible, to be sure, but hardly the triumph I was reaching for. So this time I kept it simple. Super simple. Too simple? Not really, but the light touch I gave this one caused my dashing husband to proclaim that it was more souffle than lasagna. I took it as the highest compliment. Or, to be more precise, I took it as a compliment once I stopped obsessively wondering if he really meant that there wasn’t enough food. There was enough food. Pretty much. Who knew the lasagna would turn out so tasty? Who were we to resist its charms?

Overly Long and Picture-Laden Fresh Tomato Lasagna Recipe

Start by buying super ripe tomatoes. The better the tomatoes, the better this lasagna will be. And by “better” I don’t mean fancy names or labels or heirloom-ness,  I mean ripe and super tomato-flavored. Taste before you buy. Also, less juicy varieties will work better here. Your Romas, your Early Girls, your plums.

Take about 3 pounds of those tomatoes and hull them (cut out their core). Chop them and run that mixture through a food mill.

Alternatively, you can purée them in a blender and then run them through a food mill or, if you don’t have a food mill, strain the mixture through a sieve to get the seeds and skin out – although that process is such a pain that I would then consider peeling and seeding the tomatoes first and then whirling them in a blender. In any case, you want to end up with a smooth purée of tomatoes with very minimal seeds or skin in the mix.

Pour this purée into a pot, add an onion that has been halved and peeled and about 6 tablespoons of butter. Bring the whole mess just to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring now and again as the mood strikes you, until it is all reduced and dark red and yummy looking and a bit thickened up. This will take at least an hour and maybe two depending on how juicy the tomatoes were to start with.

While the sauce is cooking you need to make the pasta. Work 2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of fine sea salt, and 4 eggs into a dough. Knead this dough so it holds together and is nice and smooth – you can just do this in the bowl you mixed the dough in. No big deal. No need to knead it like bread dough. Put the pasta dough on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it up and shape it into a flat disk as you do so. Put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You could, of course, do this before you get the sauce started so that once the sauce is cooking you can start in the with pasta. I did not do that. I found there was plenty of clean-up, note-taking, and lunch-eating to do while the pasta rested.

Then you need to roll out the pasta. I divided the dough into 8 portions. Rolled one portion on the thickest setting, folded that piece like a business letter in thirds, rolled it on the thickest setting, repeated that move and then moved on, doing that with each portion of dough (adding flour as necessary along the way, of course).

I then took each piece through the next setting, and so on until the dough was rolled out on the thinnest setting on my pasta roller-outer. You may well have another method for rolling out pasta dough. Please, use that if it works for you.

Cut the pasta sheets into pieces that 1) will fit in the pan you’re going to bake the lasagna in and 2) that you can deal with and handle without losing your mind. For me that meant cutting each sheet into 3 or 4 pieces.

Put a large pot of water on to boil, add enough salt so it tastes salty, and drop the pasta sheets in for about 30 seconds each. Have a bowl of ice water ready to dunk the pasta into when you take it out of the boiling water to cool it immediately.

Lift pasta out of the water, running your hand down each piece to remove as much excess water as possible, and lay the pasta out on clean kitchen towels. Warning: this will most likely use up most of your counter space.

Thinly slice about 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese. Finely grate about 4 ounces of Parmesan cheese.

Taste the pasta sauce, add enough sea salt to make the flavor really pop.

Put about 1/3 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 (or there about) baking pan and spread it around. Arrange a single layer of pasta in the pan. Top that with just a bit of sauce – seriously, just the thinnest of layers that will fall far short of coating everything.

Then a layer of pasta. Then a layer of mozzarella – but not a solid layer, just pull each slice apart a bit and arrange about half the mozzarella in the pan. Top with pasta. Then sauce. Then pasta.

Then a sprinkle of Parmesan. Then pasta. Then sauce. Then pasta. Then the remaining mozzarella. Then pasta. Then sauce. Then pasta. Then sauce and the rest of the Parmesan.

Cover and bake for 35 minutes at about 375°F. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes or so. Serve with fresh basil leaves and some oven-dried tomatoes. I also offered up a platter of sautéed zucchini, all beautifully browned and yummy out of a cast iron pan.

I’d like to say that this feeds six, but that is stretching it. It really is terribly light. Delicious. But light.

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This is how cooks roll…

We were headed out of town. We needed to eat dinner. I wanted to use what was in the house. I didn’t want to put a bunch of effort into anything besides packing and trying desperately to clear crap off my desk. A quick reflection on what was in the house revealed unto me the wonder twin combination of spaghetti carbonara and a salad. Done and done. Easy peasy.

Except when I went to start cooking I realized I had thought we had bacon and we did not. I also realized that the parsley I had pictured sitting in the vegetable drawer was equally absent.

Some people might have panicked. Plenty of folks would have headed out for tacos or pizza or called up the Thai delivery place. Not this one. This one rooted around in the fridge just a moment longer and came up with the end of a salami and a bunch of fresh mint and proceeded as much as planned as possible under the circumstances.

What we then ate wasn’t spaghetti carbonara, that’s for sure. But it was also totally and completely delicious. I will make it again.

That spaghetti carbonara recipe is delicious, to be sure. But practiced cooks know that no recipe is so good or so perfect that it can’t bear to be toyed with and tweaked and modified as taste and supplies and audience demand. As I like to say, one way or another there is always dinner in the house.

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Simply sardines

Once upon a time, when he was a young boy, my dad did not want to eat his dinner. He didn’t like it. It was a casserole. His mother found this quite vexing, so the story goes, since, according to her estimation, he liked everything that was in the casserole. She went so far as to name everything – ingredient by ingredient – that had gone into the dish to prove to him that he did, in fact, like the casserole. He maintained that no, he did not. She asked him what he would prefer to eat. He said hot dogs. Legend has it that she then fed him hot dogs at every meal for a week.

We had a busy weekend around here. It started with Thursday and Friday off of school (Lunar New Year and a furlough day because the school district doesn’t actually have any money to pay the bill for one thing that they seem to still pay: teachers’ salaries, but please, let’s not get me started on Prop 13 or we’ll be here forever) without corresponding days off of work for me and my dashing husband, which is always a somewhat fraught situation. Then on to a Lunar New Year’s banquet organized by fabulous Cousin Katie and her friend, and then a truly lovely dinner party the next night, all against a backdrop of weather a description of which would torture those suffering from early-onset cabin fever due to all the winter storms this year (okay, I’ll say this much – I was trotting around town in a sundress, a sundress, people!  It’s February for goodness sake!).

All that is to say that Sunday night popped up out of nowhere and despite the fact that I hadn’t cooked for days I still wasn’t all that anxious to get back at the stove. I was even less interested in going to the store or drawing up a list for someone else to go to the store. To the cupboard I turned and the cupboard revealed unto me:

Sardine olive caper pasta

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While that happens mince a few cloves of garlic and/or shallots, a chile if you have it (use some red pepper flakes if you don’t), a handful or two of olives (pit them first if need be), a spoonful or two of capers, and – these are nice to add if you have them and I always do because it’s so nice to add them to things when you have them – a few pickled green peppercorns. Put the pasta to boil and cook until tender to the bite with that bit of give in the middle – just a little more than you want at the end. Pull out a cup or so of the pasta water before you drain the pasta. Put the pot back on the stove and add a bunch of olive oil and all that stuff you chopped up. Stir until everything is sizzling and yummy smelling. Add about 1/2 cup white wine and cook until about half the wine is evaporated. Add a can or two of sardines (tuna works too), stir to break them up and add the pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir to combine everything and cook, stirring now and again, until the pasta is perfectly done. You can chop up some parsley and add that if you have it and you’re so inclined. If you have a bit of last-chance arugula sitting in the fridge that is going to be tossed the next day if you don’t use it now, pile some on top of each serving of pasta along with the freshly ground black pepper.

My dashing husband proclaimed it the “best pasta of 2010-2011.” I inhaled a bowlful and went back for more. My son sat and poked at his.

“But you like sardines,” said my dashing husband.

No response, just more poking at the pasta.

“And you like olives.”

Silence.

“And we all know how much you like pasta.”

Silence.

“So you must like this!”

Our son turned to me and asked: “Mama, can I just get an apple?”

I sometimes worry that I’ll become too much like my grandmother. My voice isn’t unlike hers and once in awhile I come out with a doozy of a “really!” that even I recognize sounds just like her. I loved her very much and she was an amazing woman. Inspirational in many, many ways. But she was hard on her sons and daughters-in-law and could be dismissive and cold (not to her eldest grandchild, but I saw her be that way to others – including other grandkids – plenty of times). As with so many people, her hard shell was a protective one, and she was a gooey mess on the inside full of endless love for and pride in all of us, but she never came to terms with some of life’s blows and it wore on her. I learned a lot of things from her. I learned to speak my mind. I learned to play a mean game of Scrabble. I learned you belong anywhere you decide you belong. I learned a delicious meal is worth seeking out and worth sharing with others. I also learned that no matter how hard you try, no matter how perfect the logic and well laid-out your argument, you simply cannot talk someone into liking food they don’t like.

It was comforting to learn that maybe I wasn’t turning into my grandmother; perhaps I’d just married her instead.

Last night our making-dinner snack was a bowl of plain olives and sardines straight from the can. We all happily ate our fair share.

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Parsley walnut pesto

Yeah, I still have walnuts about. Five pounds is a lot of walnuts!

I’ve tried making winter pestos in the past – and I’ve tried them with walnuts. I’ve never been thrilled with the results. I realize not the error of my ways, though. I kept turning to arugula as my green, as my winter “basil.” I kept things a bit more simple and used flat-leaf parsley instead.

Score.

It will be delicious for the coming winter months – and its simplicity can serve as a perfect tonic to the insanity of the Thanksgiving feast you may have enjoyed.

Parsley walnut pesto

Parsley stays nice and green, no there is no need to blanch it.  Toss it with hot pasta or just smear it onto toast. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for, I’m guessing, several months without trouble. If you plan to freeze it, I’d hold off on adding the cheese until you’re ready to use it.

1 1/2 cups walnuts

2 – 3 cloves garlic

Leaves from 2 bunches flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup walnut oil

1 – 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or cider vinegar

1/2 cup freshly grated aged pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

Salt to taste

In a large frying pan over medium high heat, toast walnuts, shaking the pan frequently until walnuts start to smell toasty good and take on a bit of color, 3 to 5 minutes. Take care not to let them darken too much in the pan – they will continue to toast up when you take them off the heat. Transfer to a plate or cutting board and let cool.

In a food processor or blender, pulse garlic until minced – scraping the sides down as needed. Add parsley leaves and pulse until reduced a bit. Add oil and lemon juice and whirl until fairly smooth.

Add walnuts and pulse until as smooth as you like (I prefer to have some chunks of walnut in there). Add cheese and pulse to combine. Taste and add salt as you like.

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Manti lamb pasta

I’ve written before about my obsession with manti, those tiny Turkish lamb dumplings. I’ve been insane enough in the past to make them and, if I’m being honest, it is highly likely that I will be that insane again.

Not this time, though. This time I got the general flavor delight by making the filling into a sauce and putting it on noodles. I got the idea from Melissa Clark, who did the same thing a few years ago. Her version had eggplant in it, which sounds good but not really so much like manti. My version sticks a bit closer to the original taste profile, with the exception of the fact that I ended up dolloping some harissa on it and being thrilled with the results. Authenticity be damned.

Is it as good as the dumplings? Absolutely not. Is it a delicious dish that was made and ready to eat in about 30 minutes instead of 3 hours? Yes it was.

Manti lamb pasta

The optional hot sauce is absolutely optional, but know that it is also absolutely delicious. Some kind of thick or even paste-like chile concoction works better than sauce-y condiments, but that may just be me.

1 pound ground lamb

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced (divided)

12 leaves mint, cut into ribbons

1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 pound farfalle pasta

1 cup thick Greek-style yogurt

3 tablespoons butter

Chile powder

(Harissa, or other hot sauce type item for them that like it – while true manti are not traditionally spicy, this pasta is awfully tasty with an extra kick)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, pat the lamb dry. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Brown the lamb in the olive oil. When about half the lamb is cooked, add the onion and 2 cloves of the garlic. Cook, stirring, until lamb is cooked through and onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of the mint, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Add broth and simmer until almost completely evaporated but a bit saucy on the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. While the pasta cooks, combine yogurt with the remaining 1 clove of the garlic and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until butter starts to brown. Remove from heat.

Divide pasta between 4 plates, top with lamb, top that with yogurt, drizzle each serving with some browned butter and garnish with chile powder and some of the remaining mint. Serve with hot sauce on the side for people to add themselves.

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Caprese pasta

Much like the chickpea salad in July, I feel sheepish posting this. Too easy. Too simple. Yet it’s also too delicious not to share in case anyone out there isn’t making it.

Caprese pasta

The short version is this: chop tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and toss with hot angle hair pasta. The longer and slightly more accurate version is –

1 – 1 1/2 pounds very ripe and sweet and meaty tomatoes

3 – 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 – 8 ounces fresh mozzarella ball(s)

Stack of basil leaves

Salt

1 pound angel hair pasta

Put a large pot of water on to boil. While that gets boiling, rinse tomatoes clean and pat them dry. Chop the tomatoes and put them in a very large bowl, being sure to include as much of the juices that may have escaped during chopping as possible.

Add olive oil to tomatoes, toss a bit, and let sit.

Drain mozzarella and dice it. You can add it to the tomatoes, if you want it to get a wee bit melty when you add the hot pasta. If I’m making this for myself, I do this. My dashing husband prefers this dish without the mozzarella, however, which is fine. No, really, it’s totally cool. So i leave it out and just add mine on top of my serving, as you see above.

Stack some basil leaves, roll them up, and slice them into thin ribbons. Set aside.

When the water is boiling, add enough salt to make it taste salty, add the pasta and cook until tender to the bite. Drain and quickly add to the tomatoes. Start tossing. Add some basil and toss to combine. Add more olive oil, if it seems at all dry.

Divide among serving bowls and garnish with basil (and mozzarella if you find yourself married to someone who for some insane reason doesn’t want mozzarella in their portion).

I should note that, despite my husband’s mozzarella-induced insanity, I must agree that the dish is perfectly delicious without it. I just really really like cheese. Like a lot. A bit of mozzarella in my tomato basil capellini keeps me from feeling weak or getting the vapors.

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Sardine red pepper pasta

We’ve had some sardines in the house this spring. How long could they possibly keep themselves out of a dish of pasta?

Sardine red pepper pasta

The sweet silkiness of the peppers and the salty silkiness of the sardines do a lovely little dance with the tangle of noodles.

1 pound spaghetti

Salt

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes (optional)

1 jar (12-ounce) roasted red peppers

6 or so fillets of home-cured or skinless canned sardines

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so it tastes like the sea. Boil the pasta until just tender to the bite. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add garlic and chile flakes and let them sizzle until the garlic turns golden. Add the roasted peppers and stir, using the spoon or spatula to break up the larger pieces of peppers into bite-size pieces.

Add sardines and stir, again, breaking them into pieces if you need to. Cook, reducing heat to maintain a simmer, until everything is heated through and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes.

Divide pasta between the serving bowls or plates and top with the “sauce.” Garnish with black pepper.

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