#101pastas 024: Spaghettini with sardines and oven-dried tomatoes

I had some tomatoes the other day that were rapidly approaching end of life. In the absence of anything to do with them immediately, I decided to oven dry them, which is something I first started doing years ago. When I lived right next to it, I used to turn up at the Bacon Street fruit and veg stalls just before closing time at Brick Lane Saturday market and pick up a box of very ripe tomatoes for a couple of quid. Essentially it’s a cheat’s way of making your own sundried tomatoes, in the absence of any sun.

It’s really easy you just half the tomatoes, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and then bung them in a low oven (like about 120’C) with some salt, olive oil, and maybe a head of garlic (in its skin but with the top and tail removed) and leave them for a few hours until they look like sundried tomatoes. They can then be stored under oil for weeks.

I also happened to be doing an inadvertent audit of all the tinned food I panic bought 3 months ago and stumbled across a few tins of sardines which I realised I’d not even tried to do anything with so thought that was a suitable prompt to give it a go.

Serves 2
Spaghettini (or pasta of your choice) 200g
Stale bread 1 slice per person
Celery 1 rib
Garlic 3 large cloves
Chilli flakes a couple of pinches (to taste)
Oven or sundried tomatoes 1 good sized fruit per person
Sardines 1 tin in spring water or oil
Cavolo nero (or kale) a large handful
Lemon half
Parmesan (or other hard cheese) to serve

Put your pasta on to cook.

In a blender, whizz up you bread with one clove of garlic and some cracked peppercorns. Adding a couple of pinches of coriander or fennel seed also works here. Fry on a medium heat in a large frying pan with olive oil until golden brown. Remove from heat into a bowl lined with kitchen paper and set aside.

Wipe out your frying pan with kitchen towel. Chop your celery and garlic, and in more olive oil, fry gently with the chilli until softened. Drain your sardines and add to the pan, breaking them up as you go.

As your pasta approaches al dente, add your diced tomatoes to warm through, then your shredded kale and a ladle of pasta water. Turn up the heat so the kale wilts.

Drain the pasta, retaining a ladle or two of the water in case you need it to loosen the pasta. Add to the frying pan and stir to coat. Serve immediately, topped with the breadcrumbs, a squeeze of lemon juice, parmesan and lots of black pepper.