Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spaghetti with Chilli, Sardines, and Oregano

Watching a whole lot of Gordon Ramsay on YouTube, I thought I'd try this recipe since it looks really straightforward, a little bit different than what I'd normally go for but not too extreme, quick to prepare, and a way to use that one tin of sardines I've had in my pantry forever.

Spaghetti with Chilli, Sardines, and Oregano
adapted from Channel 4 which no longer has it posted, but also found here
click to print

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced, divided
75 g rough breadcrumbs, made from stale bread
0.44 lb dried spaghetti
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped - I used a red Fresno pepper
3.75 oz tin good-quality boneless sardines, drained
5 oregano sprigs, leaves only
1.75 oz arugula
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and heat until hot.

My 10" skillet.

Add half the garlic along with the breadcrumbs. Cook over a medium heat for about 3 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and toasted and the garlic tender and lightly browned.

Season with salt and pepper and toss. Drain on kitchen paper.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve some pasta water before draining.

The Delallo spaghetti, about half a 1 lb package, was cooked in the salted water 8 minutes before draining.

Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and add remaining oil; heat until hot.

I used a 12" skillet here.

Fry the remaining garlic and the chilli for 1–2 minutes.

I went with the low end of the time, 1 minute, since my garlic was browning quickly.

Flake the sardines into small pieces, then toss in the pan with the garlic and chilli.

Add the drained cooked pasta to the pan with the sardines. Toss to mix well, adding reserved pasta water as necessary.

Add the oregano, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

When ready to serve, stir the arugula into the pasta.

Divide pasta between serving plates. Garnish with the crispy garlic breadcrumbs and serve immediately.

You DEFINITELY want to reserve some of your pasta cooking water because otherwise this will be dry. Very dry. I even added some of the pasta water to my plate and I'll probably put some in with the leftover pasta so it won't be bone dry when I reheat it. The original recipe didn't specify that some water should be reserved so Ramsay must use much more oil than I did. His recipes tend not to quantify how much oil, salt, or pepper to use. Not that that's a bad thing, I was just off.

I certainly like the pasta. It took longer to cook than the pastas I'm accustomed to but it actually tastes good and the firmness is nice. I usually cook my pastas so they are almost hard in the center because otherwise they are like Play-Doh or Chef Boyardee, aka, paste.  This one was al dente and the way it turned out is, I think, what they really mean by that.

The first time using fresh oregano (at least that I can recall) and wow, does it ever make itself known when you get a leaf. A rough chop would probably have been a good idea just for more even distribution. Same with the arugula, which is fairly bitter.

Overall though, a dish outside my norm but not one I'm opposed to doing again. I like the idea of incorporating more sardines into my diet; there's no reason not to, I quite like them. One other thing: since I was scared of over-salting this pasta dish like I did the last one, I didn't season the garlic breadcrumbs. I will not skip that step in the future.

The last thing: this took me almost 45 minutes to make but that was because I didn't get the water going for the pasta early enough and had to wait for the pasta to finish cooking. Get it going early; the rest of the recipe goes by quickly. It could be done in less than 30 minutes. It's probably easy enough to do everything in a 12" skillet, one less to wash.

  • olive oil: $0.12
  • garlic cloves: $0.16
  • breadcrumbs: $0.60
  • spaghetti: $1.10
  • red Fresno pepper: $0.07
  • Crown Prince sardines in soybean oil: $2.99
  • oregano: $1
  • arugula: $0.87
Total: $6.13 or about $3.06 for each of two big servings


Anonymous said...

Imagine if you could find and use fresh sardines. That would make it bang!

The Cook said...

I'm sure you're probably correct! Fresh is always better. Let me know if you try it, with or without fresh sardines. Definitely report back if you use fresh!