Turn a normal boring can of sardines into a tasty, nutritious and inexpensive meal with this Spanish sardines pasta recipe. This is one of the simplest and quickest pasta recipes you will ever find. It's likely you'll have all, or at least most of the ingredients already. Just combine a packet of canned sardines with sautéed garlic, chilli and tomato and squeeze on some lemon juice to add a new level of fresh flavour. Then toss the tasty seasoned sardines with some freshly cooked tagliatelle or other pasta of your choice and serve.
For another simple fish-based pasta recipe try my Salmon & Dill Pasta (without cream).
🛒 What do I need to make this recipe?
- Pasta - I feel this recipe works best with long pasta varieties that you can twirl around your fork, such as tagliatelle, spaghetti or linguine. If you don't have any of these in stock, go ahead and use another variety of pasta. It won't fundamentally change any of the key flavours, and you'll still get a tasty pasta dish.
- Red chilli - you can swap this for chilli flakes or omit if you are very sensitive to spice.
- Tomatoes - if tomato doesn't float your boat or (like me) you are catering for a tomato hater, you can switch it for the same volume of chopped red pepper.
- Sardines - these can be switched for other varieties of oily fish, such as mackerel or herring.
Tools & equipment:
- One medium to large saucepan - choose one that is large enough to cook the pasta in.
- One medium to large frying pan - remember that this will need to hold all the cooked pasta. It will look a bit empty until you add the cooked pasta.
- Colander - for draining the cooked pasta.
- Sharp knife - for prepping the ingredients.
- Garlic crusher - not strictly necessary, but I use mine every time a recipe requires minced garlic.
- Tongs- are also not strictly necessary, but I always use mine when I cook pasta because they are great for tossing everything together and serving.
🧑🍳 How to make Spanish Sardines Pasta
1. Cook the pasta
Bring a large pan of water to boil, salt generously and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente.
2. Fry the garlic, chilli and tomato
Place a medium to large frying pan on a medium heat and add olive oil. When the oil is hot add the garlic and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes until they begin to soften.
3. Add the sardines, lemon juice and lemon zest
Take the sardines out of their tin and remove any excess oil with kitchen paper. Add them to the pan with garlic chilli and tomato and cook for a few minutes until they are hot. Then reduce the heat to its lowest and add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
4. Add the cooked pasta and serve
When the pasta is ready reserve a small mug of the starchy pasta water before you drain it. Then add the drained pasta to the pan with the cooked sardines and other ingredients and toss everything together. Add the reserved pasta water one tablespoon at a time if you feel that the pasta would benefit from a little additional moisture. Top with freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley and serve.
👍 Top tips for perfect Spanish Sardines Pasta
- Choose your sardines wisely - canned sardines can vary in quality. I tried several when testing this recipe and found that you do often get what you pay for. My favourite are these Galician sardines. Opt for those packed in oil rather than tomato sauce.
- Cook the pasta first - Spanish sardines pasta is one of the quickest pasta dishes you will find. Put the pasta on first, and it will be done by the time you have prepped and cooked the other ingredients.
- Don't forget to reserve some pasta water - it's great to have a few tablespoons of the starchy and salty pasta sauce to hand in case a little additional moisture is required to finish the dish.
It's simply because supply exceeds demand. Sardines feed on plankton and there is a large supply of this too, so there's no shortage of food for them. This means there is also a large supply of sardines for them to mate with.
Sardines contain high levels of omega 3 which is known to improve cardiovascular health, boost the immune system and can even improve cognitive function. They are also a great source of vitamin D and calcium.
One or two portions of sardines or other oily fish per week are ample for most people. Oily fish can contain a small amount of mercury so it's best not to eat it in excess - no more than four times a week for most people and two if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
❄️ Leftovers and freezing:
Spanish Sardines Pasta is so quick and easy to make and tastes best when served immediately. It makes sense to cook up a fresh batch each time. Any leftovers you have will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be eaten cold or re-heated on the stove or in the microwave. I don't recommend freezing this dish. It's not unsafe to do so, it just won't taste fresh.
Other speedy pasta recipes
- Tuna Pesto Pasta
- Sage Butter & Walnut Pasta
- 15-Minute Miso Pasta
- Sausage and Broccoli/Broccolini Pasta
- Zucchini Mushroom Pasta