In 3 short weeks I head to my favorite spot in the world–the Mediterranean sea. Once landed, I always make a beeline to the closest outdoor taverna and order me up some fresh grilled sardines. I know a lot people won’t bother to order them let alone eat them as they take a little work to peel around the bones to reach the succulent meat. But I love them and that’s what’s first the order of eating for me every time I visit.
But here at home, well, it’s a different story. Perhaps it’s the lack of balmy breezes and the parade of interesting looking international people parading by that sets the scene to dig into fresh sardines. Here at home I eat them canned like everyone else. So finding good ones is a never ending task for me, until now.
After having been raised on store brands, it wasn’t until venturing out on my own that I discovered there had to be canned sardines that would at least come close to the fresh. This week finally I found the one. Bela-Olhao Portugal lightly smoked sardines have transported me back to that favorite spot in the world. And the variety with cayenne flavored olive oil will have you longing for the sunny Med coast.
While delightful right out of the can, let me truly bring you to Southern Europe with this Sicilian Pasta with Smoked Sardines. Just pretend there is a breeze.
SICILIAN PASTA WITH SMOKED SARDINES
1 can (4 1/4 oz) Bela-Olhao Portugal Sardines in cayenne flavored olive oil
½ cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14. 5 oz) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup golden raisins
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 ounces ziti
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1. Drain off 2 tsp of olive oil from the can of sardines. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raisins, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6-7 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
3. Add the sardines to the sauce and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
4. Toss the hot pasta with the sauce and top with pine nuts and basil.