Sara Clevering with a pasta that is as delicious as it is unexpected – Sardine and Fennel Penne.
By Sara Clevering
I know this is going to be a hard sell, but bear with me. Might I suggest, the next time you are in the store, not to breeze by the canned sardines? Now, before you wrinkle your nose (and if you are wondering, yes I did develop a taste for these when I was pregnant), let me point out the following.
– As a fatty fish, sardines are high in omega-3s, calcium (don’t buy them de-boned, as unlike many fish you can eat the bones) and are one of the only food sources of vitamin D.
– As a small fish, low on the food chain, sardines are generally low in mercury.
– As a small fish that reproduces rapidly, sardines are sustainable.
It’s the trifecta! But wait, folks, there’s more: they are, in stark contrast to most of your pescatarian options, cheap. Now, I’m perfectly content to pop open a can and eat on a slice of toasted bread when I’m too busy/tired/lazy to cook. But I’ll up the ante and provide you with a more elegant way to enjoy these.
Sardines and fennel are a classic combination in Sicilian cooking: a delicious, if possibly unexpected, pairing. The two flavors work well together: the clean, almost licorice flavor of the fennel brightens the fatty fish, and throwing in a few fennel seeds just enhances this combination. While you might ideally use fresh sardines, I’ve modified the recipe to use the more readily available, canned variety. This results in a recipe that is very pantry-friendly (especially if using fennel bulbs).
You can use one or two cans of sardines as you prefer (I probably don’t need to tell you my preference). I order my sardines in bulk from Vital Choice , whose cans are packed full of meaty fillets, but you can of course grab them at the grocery store.
Sara sees cooking and baking as a delicious way to connect with the past and travel the world from her kitchen. She is commited to preparing homemade, unprocessed meals for her family and is always looking for tricks to fit this into a busy schedule. Sara is currently in the Boston area after several years living in London, Spain, and the Czech Republic, and travelling extensively in Eastern and Western Europe, always making sure to experience local culture through food. She also blogs with her sisters at www.threecleversisters.com