Sardines Pasta in Brandied Tomato Sauce
Inspired by the glorious pasta al fume at Aria Cucina Italiana in Boracay. The sauce is made with sardines, fresh tomatoes and, of course, brandy. Delicioso!Yes, I deconstructed the recipe because it's not as if restaurants give away trade secrets. How did my deconstructed pasta turn out? Let me put it this way. My husband isn’t a huge fan of pasta but he had two helpings. Can there be a better testament to how good this pasta dish is? I think not.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil doesn’t have to be extra virgin
- 2 cups finely chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup finely chopped onions
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pinches oregano
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 generous splashes brandy
- 6 sardines (see notes after the recipe)
- cooked pasta for two to three persons; any shape
- ¾ cup shredded cheese (see notes after the recipe)
- snipped parsley to garnish
- Heat the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Sprinkle in the oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables soften a bit.
- Add the brandy. Stir. Allow to cook uncovered for a few minutes. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper, as needed. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the sardines, breaking them into smaller pieces.
- Continue cooking the sauce, uncovered over medium heat, until chunky and almost dry.
- Taste the sauce one last time and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Remember though that you will be adding a lot of cheese so go easy on the salt.
- Turn off the heat. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss well.
- Add the cheese to the pasta. Toss to distribute evenly.
- Sprinkle the pasta with snipped parsley before serving.
The sardines are the kind sold in jars packed in oil. They’re tastier and firmer. The spiced oil can even be added to the pasta sauce. You can use anchovies instead of sardines if you want a more authentic Italian flavor. For the cheese, I used the saltiest I had in the fridge — sharp cheddar. A drier and more aged cheese like Parmesan or Edam would be better so you might want to consider your options.
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