Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers

I continue to be amazed by the talent and creativity I see in the blogs I visit. Often, having spent the day in an assortment of unplanned, often unnerving, activities, the dinner hour is approaching and the blogger has absolutely no idea of what to prepare. A look in the pantry, a scan of the fridge, and within minutes a delicious dinner is on the table while a tasty dessert awaits on a countertop. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but the point remains. Many of you can create fabulous dinners on a moment’s notice, using only what you find in your kitchen and pantry. This is so not me. If caught with nothing planned for dinner, I can scan my cupboards or stare into the fridge for hours and I’ll end up with the same 2 dishes: a sandwich from a previous night’s roast and, when there’s no roast, some sort of pasta. Today’s recipe is a case in point.

You see, this is not the recipe I had planned to share today but before I get into that, please take a look at the image to the right. Examine that box very closely. Everybody done? Good. Now, do you see anything that would lead you to believe that there are anchovies in that box? Anything at all. Of course not. So, why did I buy it, mistakenly believing it contained white anchovies — the ingredient that was supposed to be featured in today’s recipe? Worse yet, that box sat in my cupboard for 2 weeks, visible to me countless times during that period. Yet, incredibly, it wasn’t until I opened the tin late last week that I realized my mistake — and then I had an open tin of sardines to deal with and nothing for dinner or today’s post.

Now, I could have taken the easy route and just substituted the sardines for the anchovies but that would have cost me a perfectly good pasta recipe that uses white anchovies, as you’ll see in the weeks ahead. No, I had to think of something else and, thankfully, I remembered an ingredient Mario Batali had used recently. So, I went to my stash of canned goods, specifically the hot cherry peppers I pickled last September, and the result was today’s dish, a pasta much like an Aglio e Olio.

To recap, a typical aglio e olio uses olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to dress a spaghetti-like pasta that’s topped with grated cheese and freshly cracked black pepper. The red pepper flakes give the dish a nice even heat that can be as bold as you like, unlike today’s dish, where the chopped pickled peppers give bursts of heat, as well a touch of acid from the pickling liquid. Of course the sardines give this dish an entirely different flavor profile from your everyday aglio e olio and, because of them, grated cheese should not be served with this dish. So, to top the dish off, I used the Bartolini breading mixture that was lightly toasted beforehand. And the result? Well, it was so good that I’ve promised Zia I’d prepare it for her when I visit next.

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 Linguine Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguine fini (cappellini, spaghetti, linguine, or trenette may be used)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pkg. {3.75 oz (105 g)} of skinless & boneless sardines, drained & roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, diced or grated – divided
  • 4 pickled cherry peppers, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • reserved pasta water

Directions

  1. Make the bread crumb topping:
    1. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 diced/grated garlic clove, bread crumbs, and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly.
    2. In a small frying pan over med-high heat, lightly toast the bread crumb mixture. Do not allow to get too dark or it will ruin the dish. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add the pasta and stir.
  3. In a large frying pan over med heat, add the remaining olive oil. Once hot, add remaining garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add the pickled peppers to the pan and continue sautéing for another minute before adding the sardines. Continue sautéing until the pasta has cooked 2 minutes less than the package’s cooking instructions indicate for al dente. If you’ve timed everything correctly, you should sauté the sardines for no more than 5 minutes before the pasta is ready.
  5. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
  6. Add pasta to the pan containing the sardines and peppers. Gently toss to evenly coat the pasta. If too dry, add enough pasta water to create a sauce. Continue to sauté until the pasta is al dente, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  7. Remove from heat, add 2/3 of the bread crumb mixture, and toss.
  8. Place on a serving platter and garnish with remaining 1/3 of the bread crumb mixture.
  9. Serve immediately.

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Variations

If you’re one who enjoys cooking Italian dishes, preparing aglio e olio is a dish you really should learn. The basic recipe involves using garlic-infused oil and red pepper flakes to dress pasta but that’s just the start. Today’s dish swapped out the red pepper flakes for hot cherry peppers and added sardines to the mix. You may wish to keep the pepper flakes and use some vegetable(s) instead of the sardines. No? How about some shrimp? What you choose to add or subtract from the garlic-flavored oil is totally up to you but the result is sure to be a flavorful dish of pasta. Best of all, you can go from staring into your refrigerator to dining at your table in under 20 minutes.

Notes

To be sure, not everyone has pickled cherry peppers in the pantry. Most groceries do carry them, however, but you could use peperoncini instead. Still, no matter which pepper you use, I suggest tasting one beforehand to see if its level of heat is to your liking.

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It’s déjà vu all over again … 

Having referred to it a number of times, I’ve little choice but to feature our Aglio e Olio recipe as this week’s Blast from the Past. The dish couldn’t be easier to prepare and the post contains a favorite memory of my Uncle. You can read both by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Grilled Salted Cod

Grilled Salted Cod

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170 thoughts on “Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers

  1. So glad the dish worked out! It looks delicious and pretty. This pasta dish really popped in my WP reader. I’m also one of those people that need to plan ahead. I can never throw things together at moments notice. If I bought something by mistake –it’ll stay in my pantry forever until I either toss it or donate it to the food bank. :D

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    • Thanks, Anne, and you do understand! The talent some have to create a restaurant-quality meal out of pantry items and seemingly at a moment’s notice is so far beyond me. As I said, I’ll make pasta – again, and again, and again. And when that fails, I’ll order in. :)

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  2. Oh John, I can’t do sardines…but I absolutely love every other ingredient! The dish looks very taste and beautifully out together. In actually pretty good at whipping something at the last minute. I have found some of my best recipes that end up on my blog are the ones I just threw together…of course I have flops too that don’t work out. It’s weird though….I seem to work better under pressure and less thinking involved, haha!

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    • Thank you, Brandi, and I consider you to be one of the creative ones. I’ve seen how you’ve “healthified” (like that word?) recipe after recipe. My way of making something healthier is to not make it. It’s a good thing I enjoy pasta as much as I do or I’d be in a terrible fix. :)

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  3. I thought you’d just said you couldn’t “wing” it? You’ve outdone yourself again.. just pull out some peppers and put this together with sardines.. and your Bartolini Breading mixture and there’s a gourmet dish. Alas, I’m a lass who can just follow a recipe, make a sandwich and have left-over roast beef.. which is exactly what I ate tonight:D If only I had a few peppers in my fridge.. a little creative imagination for invention of new dishes.. but, as you said yourself, I’ll leave that to you and will trade your pasta for a few cookies:D xx

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    • You’re so kind to me, Barb. This dish is hardly inventive. As I mentioned in the post, once you learn the aglio e olio recipe and method, you can make a pasta dish out of just about anything. Sautéed vegetables work wonderfully and, if you get tired of them prepared that way, roast ‘em first in the oven before adding them to the pasta. You’re such a talented cook, Barb, that you could easily do this. If this isn’t your style, I’ve the white anchovy pasta coming up in a couple weeks. C’mon, give ‘em a try!

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  4. I love it when accidents turn out delicious! I’m all good intentions and try to have a general plan for dinner but tend to get distracted by pretty shiny things at the market lol

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    • “Pretty shiny things” too funny! I am soo that way,too. In fact, I’m convinced that I was Jack of the beanstalk fame in an earlier life. I enter the market with 2 or 3 items in mind, needed for that night’s dinner, and before I know it, something “shiny” grabs my attention and it’s all downhill from there. :)

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  5. We live on the sardine coast of France. I think sardine canning was first done just up the road in St.Gilles Croix de Vie – anyway they had huge sardine fleets there in the last century. Things have changed in this modern world, but you can still buy “millesime” canned sardines there, which have the date of the catch and the name of the boat, from the fleet that still works there, on the can. Of course, their market is full of sardines, and fish of every kind. Tuna’s big there too. The long and the short of it, John, is that I love sardines and eat a lot of them. I’ll be checking out this recipe.

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  6. How creative of you, John! I love when a mistake turns into pure gold! :) You know though, I’ve never seen filleted sardines here, I think they always come in either oil or tomato sauce and whole! White anchovies – now I’ve spotted those a few times and never really known what to do with them, so I’ll await your recipe with eagerness! xx

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    • Thanks, Celia. The thing is, I’d never seen this type of sardine either. Maybe that’s why I thought them to be white anchovies when I saw them pictured on the box. I’m glad I’ve found them, though. I just wonder what else is on that shelf at the market?

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    • Thanks, Mandy. I’m sure most people will enjoy white anchovies. They’re not as “harsh” as their cousins and nowhere near as salty. Plus, they make a good dish of pasta!
      I hope you have a great weekend!

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    • Blue eye or blind, I had a good chuckle over it — and then I realized i had nothing for dinner nor for today’s recipe. Panic is the mother of invention in my kitchen, Elaine. I’m just glad it worked out. As for the cod, my Zia was thrilled when I asked her about the recipe. It’s been ages since any of us has grilled it. I hope you’ll like it.

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        • Funny thing, Elaine. Earlier in the week, we were talking about how amazing it is that this blog has attracted viewers from all over the world. When I was considering starting it, and before I went “public”, we talked about it. I wanted to make sure I had her approval. Never, for a moment, did either of us think people other than friends and family would be drawn to it. I keep telling her that she should start wearing large sunglasses and scarves, like Jackie Onassis, when she goes to the grocery store so that the paparazzi won’t recognize her. :)

          Thank you for leaving such kind words. I’ll be sure to relay them to her this evening when we talk.

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  7. LOVE the reminiscing about your Uncle in the Aglio e Olio link John. What a gorgeous story. I love it when meals are linked to a time or person. I have many dishes that cast me straight back to a holiday or particular family member. This dish looks fantastic, and honestly doesn’t look like a mistake to moi! Sounds like a beautiful combo. I really must eat more sardines… so full of calcium and good oil…

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    • Thank you for your kind words. It’s funny but I’d no idea how many of my memories were food related. In fact, it was the recipe that very often triggered the memory, either with myself or a family member, usually my Zia. It really is a surprise. Unlike those sardines that are packed in tomatoes, these are meant to be used in pasta — at least in my kitchen. I hope you can find some so that you can give this recipe a try. :)

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  8. Pingback: Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers | Le Marche and Food | Scoop.it

  9. Pingback: Pasta of the Last Minute: Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers | La Cucina Italiana - De Italiaanse Keuken - The Italian Kitchen | Scoop.it

  10. Pingback: Pasta of the Last Minute: Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers « goodthingsfromitaly

  11. I, too, love the story of your late night suppers with your Uncle. What a wonderful visual.
    And your photos are great on both posts. Making everything so inviting and ready to add to the dish. The completed dishes are always making us salivate and wish we were at the table with you sharing. Knowing that when you prepare it, it would be perfection. My sister used to eat sardines right out of the tin and those little guys always looked so oily to me. Not like your pretty can’s illustration. This season of fish eating is going to be a good one if everyone follows your guide.

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    • Thank you so much, Ruth. Those late night dinners with Uncle were very special. I was surprised to learn that Zia knew nothing about them. That made them even more special.
      It’s funny how many commenters have a sibling or Dad that enjoyed sardines. I only started eating them when I was an adult. We had enough fish at home without adding sardines to the mix, apparently. And, yes, I’ve more fish dishes and another pasta lined up. I hope you’ll like them, too. :)

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  12. I have to say, I thought your spaghetti looks fantastic and just like the kind of meal I like to eat if I’m lucky enough to enjoy a night in front of the TV watching something like Downton Abbey. But then you mentioned how you struggle with ‘winging it’ and I have to tell you, I’m exactly the same. It takes me hours of googling and going through cookbooks to work out what to put on the table each night. I have a shopping trolley and so instead of shopping for the week I take my trolley DAILY to the shops to buy the things I need I’ve just been inspired to make through googling. I’m definitely not one of those who can create something from what I have in the fridge or pantry. Is that a problem? xx

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    • I’ve always considered you one of the “wonder cooks”, Charlie. You’ve got 3 kids, a house to run and a job. Yet, you make some incredible meals and your cakes are works of art. Take away my pasta and I’m calling for dinner to be delivered. Like you, though, I go to the grocery a number of times each week but I haven’t any of the responsibilities you do. I really don’t know how you do it but, from where I sit, you way is definitely working. :)

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  13. I often think about the fact that I post a nice recipe every week or so but eat frozen pizza and other short cuts throughout the week! Necessity really is the mother of invention John and you’ve proven that here. Looks like opening those sardines was a happy accident –one that we have all benefited from. I am thinking I could make this with and without the sardines for the girls… Must try the Bartolini bread crumbs!

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    • Thank you. I’m much the same, Barb, and don’t eat like this every night — and I haven’t children to care for. I don’t know how you parents do it. As for the bread crumbs, my family uses them all of the time. On fish, vegetables, pasta, even some meats. It’s a great way to add flavor and keep the moisture in. I’ll be using it twice again during the weeks ahead. I hope you’ll like those recipes, too.

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  14. Love the sardines and you know I’m fond of the pickled cherry peppers! I’d never think to put them together! This looks like a great weeknight meal!

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    • Thanks, David. You made this meal possible! I’ve also got some small bell peppers, “tulip bells”, that I pickled and will be using in a salad later. Next Summer I’ll be pickling quite a few more peppers of all kinds, to be sure.

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  15. I adore sardines – fresh and tinned. In fact I have many happy memories of my English grandmother making me tinned sardines on toast (with plenty of butter) as a special breakfast or tea time treat as a child! Love store cupboard suppers and I think we’ve all made msitakes with things that we’ve bought in error that turn out to be surprises! Actually, this reminds me of another English Grandmother story – we were travelling as a whole family to Italy by train (the car went on a special wagon at the back with all the other cars) and we had to load up with 2 days worth of food for 6 people (my parents, my grandparents & my brother and I). Great fun it was too. In those days there was no long life milk and my grandmother had packed milk powder for coffee (we children didn’t drink it black) but in error had bought a packet of instant mashed potato, put it into a container and the error only became evident when we were faced with dark brown lumps of coffee flavoured potato floating in our little coffee cups…a story which is now a family favourite!

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    • Oh, Tanya! There just has to be some genetic link between our families! That’s too funny! Over here, people always reminisce about “Mom’s lumpy mashed potatoes” at Thanksgiving. Grandma’s lumpy coffee is a new one. Still, packing food for 6 people for 2 days, without refrigeration, it’s a wonder that the only problem was with the milk powder.
      I’ve had fresh anchovies when in Italy but never fresh sardines. I’m sure I’d love them, though. It’s just another reason for me to cross The Pond! :)

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      • Oh you must – but only in the months when there is no “r” in the name…they’re fatter and juicier then! And yes, am surprised we didn’t all go down with salmonella – think they built us to last back then ;)

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  16. A dumb question, why would one not serve grated cheese with this dish because it contains sardines?
    Adding anchovies to a pasta dish seems normal to me but never thought of adding sardines to a pasta dish, Glad you shared your mistake turned keeper, one more recipe for the Bartolini cookbook. Will file this away for the future.

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    • Thank you, Norma. I’m honored that you’d find our recipes worth saving.
      In Italy, if a pasta dish has fish or any kind of seafood, grated cheese is not used on the pasta. In Sicily and, to a lesser extent, the rest of Southern Italy, toasted bread crumbs are used to garnish seafood pastas instead. Many feel that the delicate flavor of seafood would be overpowered by grated cheese. In Italy’s restaurants, the waitstaff will tell you, “No cheese.” when they set your seafood pasta dish in front of you. I hope this cleared it up for you. :)

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      • I am learning a great deat about Italian cuisine from your posts and have saved quite a few of your recipes.
        Thanks for clearing up the “No cheese” with seafood. I will pay more attention when I am watching an Italian cooking program that features seafood.
        Wondering: what if I ordered a seafood dish at an Italian restaurant and ask for grated cheese, what reaction would I get????? May just do that one of these fine days.

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        • Depending upon the restaurant, Norma, the waiter will point out that cheese isn’t normally served with your dish. If you persist, many waiters will get you the cheese. Sometimes, though, they will refuse t do it. It all depends upon the restaurant’s management how they handle it.

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  17. Wow! Good for you John, this looks and sounds delicious!! Now that’s talent…putting this together after you realized what happened. I could never do that. The sardines would go back into the pantry until you, Ina or Chef Anne told me how to use them, lol.

    When this first came into my inbox, the very first thing I thought of was my uncle. He ate those sardines right out of the can, and always carried the can with him. I know. :)

    Hubby will enjoy the heck out of this John. Thank you!

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    • Thank you so much, Sarah. THis really is a no brainer. Once you learn that aglio e olio recipe, a whole new world of pasta making opens up for you. You can ad pretty much anything to that sauté pan and wind up with a good pasta. I was just lucky to have the pickle peppers on hand, too. I will be making this again, that’s for sure.
      Funny how many commenters have family members that loved sardines. I don;t remember having them around but my Grandpa loved them, so I’ve been told. If your DH likes this recipe, wait until he tastes the white anchovy pasta. ;)

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  18. I’ve never had a sardine (perhaps only in salad dressing), and frankly I’m sort of scared. However, you included the pickled cherry peppers (genius) AND I trust your culinary expertise, therefore, I would absolutely give this a try! Here, YOU marveled at the ability of others to create dinner on the fly, here you do the same!

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    • Thanks you, Tanya. You’d be surprised. This pasta isn’t at all as “fishy’ as one would expect. Granted, it’s not totally bland but it’s milder than I thought it would be. I really don’t put this pasta dish in the same class of some of the dinners I’ve read that people have put together, at a moment’s notice. That is just not within my capabilities.

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  19. Love the post, John. While many of us never consider ourselves to be “creative” or “imaginative,” as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Whether in science, arts and crafts, or cooking, etc., one you learn a technique you can adjust it to fit the circumstance. In your case, the aglio e olio is adapted to fit what you had. Viola! You have an inspiring, creative and tasty meal to share with your blogging friends. It looks and sounds delicious. This summer I need to find some little cherry bomb chiles and pickle them so I give this recipe a try. It sounds like it’s packed with flavor and a little touch of heat, just the way I like it.

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    • Thanks, Richard. That aglio e olio base has “saved” me more times than I could possible remember. I, too, need to find a better source for those peppers. I plan on pickling more than just a few jars this time around. They really came out well and, as you said, added “a little couch of heat” to this pasta. And no antipasto platter is complete without a few of them among the lunch meats. :)

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  20. Hi John, oh, what a lovely dish! I love-love-love sardines! (Did I say it enough times?) :) Sometimes I just open a can and make myself a sandwich: sardines on a slice of bread, nothing more! Last week I was in Seattle, and went to a fish market. While there I thought of you: they had so many fish varieties that you would like (and I like it too!). I didn’t eat anything but fish or seafood while there.
    Oh, those cherry peppers are delicious, haven’t seen it in a long time though. Not even a chance they sell it here, but I’ll keep my eyes open. Great meal!
    And the person your described in the beginning is me: I never plan a meal, not for lunch, not for dinner, not for anything. Lately I started to make plan for dinners when I have friends over. This way it’s easier to manage and not to forget something. All other time: I open the refrigerator, look at the ingredients, and cook with it and around it. That’s why I don’t bake that often: I have to follow some rules… umm, not for me! :) Kitchen is my canvas, ingredients are my paint, and I am all about to create whatever I want. You know what’s looking at me today? A cabbage and some mushrooms, and I can already smell the dinner! :)

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    • Oh, Marina. Thank you so much. Your stay in Seattle sounds just like me whenever I’m near the coast, any coast. I fill up on seafood as if I’m a dying man and only fish will save me. When in Italy, it’s as if aI have a checklist. Pasta with salmon, with clams, with sepia, I could go on and on. I, too, love those cherry peppers. I searched for them all last Summer, at a number of farmers markets, and never saw any. Finally, at Summer’s end, my Italian market got some in. I may plant a few plants this year just to make sure I have some to pickle. This pasta was too good to take a chance of going pepper-less.
      I hope you let us know what you created with your cabbage and mushrooms. I’m very interested. :)

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  21. Been there, done that. With a package of chicken breasts, the whole time my brain telling me they were thighs … until they hit the cutting board and I magically snapped out of whatever trance had me thinking they were thighs. This was the day I discovered Kung Pao is actually BETTER with thighs than boneless-skinless chicken breasts — oh the joy!
    Sardines always make me think of my dad, long passed now. When I was a little girl I would eat sardines, I think in mustard, on saltine crackers with him. Never have I thought to eat them any other way, but your pasta looks tasty!

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    • Too funny! I’ll go to my dying day wondering what I was thinking. I can’t complain, though, I honestly enjoyed the pasta that night and will definitely make it again.
      I’m amazed how many commenters have mentioned “sardine memories”, usually involving a relative. Sardines with mustard, though, is a new one on me. Now I want to try it. This time I’ll be sure to READ the box, though. No telling what else I could come home with. :)

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  22. I’m on same page. Everything I cook, from the simplest to the most complicated, is planned way ahead. Sometimes I watch the TV shows where chef contestants are given the most crazy ingredients and they have like 30 minutes to come up with the winning dish and, of course, the food looks gorgeous and is perfectly good. I keep wondering “is this for real? And if it is, how is that possible? I’ll never be able to do that!”. As to me, it is a miracle if I manage to line up all the ingredients of my recipe in 30 minutes! ;-)
    However, I truly believe that desperate times call for desperate measures and I keep saying to myself that, maybe, finding myself in desperation, I would be able to improvise. Well, enough with the digression!
    John, the pasta looks great. Even I am tempted. ;-)

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    • Thank you, Francesca, and we are in agreement about those cooking shows. Every time I watch one and see the ingredients, my “dish” would be the same. A frittata with everything in it or a pasta with everything in it. How they come up with these fabulous creations, in 20 or 30 minutes is so far outside my realm of possibility. I guess I’m just not meant to be the next Food Network star. :)

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  23. What a nice dish! Sardines don’t get much love, do they? Great way to use them. I sometimes make a Sicilian dish with sardines and fennel, which I’ll probably be posting about in several weeks. But I love the pickled cherry peppers in this! And such a nice variation on pasta aglio e olio, another great fave of mine. In fact I’m about to check out your recipe for that ! ;-) Good stuff – thanks.

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    • Thank you, John. As much as I enjoy a pasta Bolognese, I turn to aglio e olio far more times. WIth that as a base, I can make a pasta with just about any ingredients — even roasted tomatoes in the Summer. Of all that I preserved last Summer, the cherry peppers were the biggest surprise. So much so that I’m considering using one of my few planters for them this Summer. I want to have more than a couple jars on the shelf come next Fall.
      Your sardine & fennel pasta sounds great and I can’t wait to see the recipe. :)

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    • Thank you. This was a happy accident. I went from missing white anchovies to liking sardines in pasta.
      I have to admit, it had been ages since I tasted grilled salted cod. It was a real treat preparing it again. I can’t wait to do it again. I hope you’ll enjoy the recipe.

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  24. I love Aglio Olio and I love the use of bread crumbs. And garlic. And I love pickled cherry peppers. But how do I get over my fear of fish that come in little tins? My friends love sardines, and herring and anchovies and though I like the taste of anchovies I don’t like them whole. And a sardine sandwich – I know those people, too. You need to talk me through this John!

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    • You’re almost there! You need to find skinless, boneless sardine fillets. They aren;t nearly as strong as their counterparts. When you cook them, use a wooden spoon to break them into small pieces. The flavor will not be as concentrated as it would be if you ate an entire fillet at once. THe cherry peppers will help to diffuse the flavor, too. You can do this! Consider it preparation for the white anchovy pasta. That’s even better! :)

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  25. I had to laugh out loud John, your deprecating comments re the packaging. How often has this happened to me? I have stared at packaging trying to determine if it’s the one I want, only to come home and find the word that eluded me so well, right smack in the middle, so visible, you would trip over it. How does that happen? And my vocation is in food package design. Shame on me!
    I haven’t had sardines for a very long time but I do think I liked them way back when. And of course white anchovies are really a treat (I have a jar in my fridge right now). The pasta looks flavourful and colourful, after all we eat with our eyes first. And the Bartolini breading mixture would add the perfect amount of texture. Very nice.
    I have to ask a slightly odd question…what is that odd curved line in front of the lemon in the salted cod photo?

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    • Well, I’m in good company! I think what I found most bothersome was that it not only took me 2 weeks to discover my error but I had to open the box, the one labelled “Sardines”, and then the tin before I realized these weren’t anchovies. The irony is that I had white anchovies in my fridge, as well. I bought them at Costco but I had to buy 2 relatively large containers — you know Costco! When I saw this small container, I thought “How wonderful!” It was a comedy of errors, to be sure. :)
      I don’t know what that was in the photo, Eva. I went back to the rest of my photos and it appeared in 2 of them, in the middle of all that I shot. Thanks for pointing it out but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t see it. How fitting that it would happen in a photo for this post! :)

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  26. Great post, John! I love the idea of using breadcrumbs instead of cheese on seafood pasta — I’ll definitely try that and will toast the breadcrumbs in the oven rather than a frying pan because I always burn stuff I try to toast in a pan (patiently waiting and concentrating on one thing at a time is not really my thing).
    I completely agree on what you write about pasta with garlic, oil, and chile pepper. In fact, I will be making this with broccoli tonight. If I can find good boneless and skinless sardines, I’ll definitely give your recipe a try.

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    • Thanks, Stefan, for your kind words. I had to laugh when I read that you burn bread crumbs instead of toasting them in a frying pan. I burnt the first batch of these bread crumbs! The 2nd time, I stood over them because I knew the moment I turned away, they’d burn to a crisp.
      With all of the Italian dishes you prepare, I knew you’d be one to use aglio e olio as a base for other pasta dishes. It really is a great base and knowing it opens one up to many great-tasting pastas.

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  27. I honestly cannot remember if I’ve ever eaten sardines, ChgoJohn, and I’m not sure I’d be thrilled with pickled peppers. However, just looking at the picture of your cupboard creation makes me want to dive in.

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  28. I must admit that when I saw sardines I thought this recipe wasn’t going to be for me. I just don’t care for the taste. But the other ingredients, especially the cherry peppers are so delightful! I’m glad you suggested the possibility of shrimp. I can do veggies easily, but sometimes shrimp really elevates a dish for me. I never think of it as too ordinary! :-) You have so many wonderful recipes and tastes, John, that I never thought of you as anything but very creative, so I have a hard time picturing you with indecision in the kitchen even at the last moment. Perhaps you just have too many ideas! A good pasta dish is so consistently a comfort food! And I’ll admit that the photos were so good I might have a go at the sardines if someone else prepared it! :-)

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    • You’re too kind, Debra, thank you. I think you’d be surprised by how mild tasting these sardines are. Now, they aren’t totally bland but they are not nearly as strong as I thought they’d be — but fishy tasting fish don’t bother me. Anchovies, anyone? And by all means, if you can get some pickled cherry peppers, use them in a pasta dish like this one. Shrimp would be very good! The peppers add little bursts of flavor and heat but not so much to leave you begging for water. To be honest, you’ve got me thinking of buying some shrimp for my next pasta night. :)

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  29. Thank you for this post. Not only have you presented another tasty dish – yet another variation on pasta Aglio e olio, which I love to make – but you’ve reminded me of my Dad in the process. Dad really enjoyed sardines and I like to eat them too, in homage to him. Not to mention, my kids were always horrified to see me eating sardines, which I secretly found amusing. If nothing else, opening a tin of sardines was a way to guarantee myself some peace and quiet for a while.😊 I know that I will love this dish, but I’ll have to make it sometime when the Culinary Enthusiast is on a business trip; he also does not appreciate the humble sardine.

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    • The Culinary Enthusiast doesn’t like sardines? Didn’t you ask about this before you married? Well, plenty of mixed marriages do work. :)
      Other commenters have written of loved ones that enjoyed sardines, too, Mar. I didn’t expect that when I wrote this post. It’s nice reading comments like yours, seeing that my post brought back warm memories for people. The fact that you like the recipe is, really, icing on the cake. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

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  30. Interesting… the G.O. and we’e discussing sardines – as you do – a few days ago… they were old favourites of ours, but I can’t stomach thought of the entire sardine now. As Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial says, I haven’t seen this type of sardine in our shops, but I’ll be looking now as this would be a lovely quick mid week dinner. And, we still have the white anchovies to look forward to :)

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    • These sardine fillets caught me by surprise — and I don’t mean my mistake. I’d never seen sardines like these before and they worked perfectly for this pasta dish. Unlike “regular” anchovies, they didn’t disappear into the oil, leaving bits and chunks to be savored. I hope you can find them but, if you can’t, seek out some white anchovies. That’s a great pasta, too. :)

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  31. Or, you could do what I do when you’re standing in the kitchen trying to figure out the menu – call up this blog…oh wait, I guess that might not work for you :) But it works for me & I think I’m going to do some experimenting with this (not big on super hot stuff, so I’ll go w/the mild & let my husband add his own pepper flakes).

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    • Thanks, Diane, that’s kind of you to say. No matter how the peppers are labelled — hot, medium, or mild — taste one before you chop them and add them to the pan. These cherry peppers that I pickled were supposed to be very hot but weren’t. They had just the right amount of heat for me.

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  32. Looks to me like you are a great improvisational cook, look at what you created! Looks so much better than what I can whip up after staring at my pantry! And the whole reading the package thing…yeah, we all do it.

    Nazneen

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    • Thank you so much, Nazneen. I think what I found most surprising was that my self-deception went on for 2 weeks! As I mentioned earlier, I wonder what else might be in my cupboards that I think is something else. Hmmm … :)

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  33. When I saw this appealing recipe my first thought was ‘Who is next coming down from Sydney Fishmarket to bring fresh sardines’? Then had a great laugh when I saw they came from a tin :) ! Wonderfully easy, especially if it is dinner for one!! Methinks have seen filleted ones here, but not so hard to spend a couple of minutes doing the deed oneself! And yes, I was converted to ‘aglio e olio’ as the bestest way to dress pasta a long time ago!!!! Hmm: dinner tonight :) ?

    John: i have just finished an autobiography you may have already read? If not: put it on the ‘must buy, borrow, pinch’ list! Marcella Hazan’s ‘Amarcord’: have always so admired the lady and nearly ended up in her Bologna cooking School quite some time back! OK, she is from Emilia-Romagna, but that is next to your ‘origins’ and, oh boy, do you two think alike!!!!

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    • Isn’t aglio e olio the best? As you’ve undoubtedly found out, once you learn that recipe it can be used in so many ways to dress pasta. And it’s certainly healthier than a cream sauce. I may have found a couple good fishmongers, Eha, but there is no way fresh sardines will make it this far inland. Whether by mistake or intended, the only sardines I’ll be able to get are tinned.
      Thank you for the book recommendation. It’s available on Amazon and I’ve wish-listed it. i did a quick look and very much liked it. It will make for some interesting reading this Summer. :)

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  34. This looks quite tasty – I know my Fave Husband will enjoy it. One thing I have to get past is that pasta does not need to have a heavy, fussy sauce. I like the ingredients you’ve used here – and no cream in sight! :)

    P.S. I tried your lemon caper sauce last night (from last week’s recipe??) and it was divine. Fave Husband gave it two thumbs up!

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    • If you can learn the basic aglio e olio “sauce” you can cook plenty of pasta dishes, using everything from veggies to seafood, with not a drop of cream. It’s a very handy thing to learn.
      So, glad that you tried and both liked the lemon-caper sauce. It’s so easy to make but really delivers! Best of all, I always have the ingredients on hand. No last minute run to the store for one item but leaving the grocery with 2 shopping bags full. :)

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  35. John, another amazing outcome! And sometimes the unexpected turns out to be the best ever! When I saw the first picture I instantly was salivating the meal. I must admit, I am not a sardine eater. However, this looks absolutely delicious!! I love the linguine fini, the bread crumb topping, and the cherry peppers! Excellent as always!

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    • Thank you so much, Judy, for your gracious comments. I think you’d be surprised by this dish. These sardine fillets didn’t overpower the dish. I was surprised how mild they were — although I am a lover of fishy fish. Like the anchovy recipe to come, the garlic-infused oil and bread crumbs all help to rein in the fish taste. Still, if this isn’t your dish, perhaps next week’s will be more to your liking. I hope so. :)

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  36. OK, John, I love the way your mind works. I love that you looked at those sardines for two weeks believing you had all you needed for another spectacular pasta dish. I love upon discovering you had the wrong kettle of fish you determined to make something utterly new, inventive (off the top of your head, whatever you may offer up as argument! It WAS inventive!) I really really like the sounds of this dish, though I can hardly wait for those white anchovies, because, oh man, do I love those! And I love how you’ve determined to save those for later. My mother had an expression…”starving them into submission”…So that’s what you’re up to! Making us hungry! I’m making a birthday request for the Kitchenaid pasta attachment. I’ve got to get crackin’ here! (And I’ve got a pasta dish for YOU, coming soon.)

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    • “Starving into submission” I wish! No, I was going to keep that pasta recipe for white anchovies, no matter what. I really do enjoy it. Funny thing, though, I really like this one, too.
      I have the pasta rollers for my KA and that attachment has made making pasta so much easier. We can make so many ravioli per afternoon because of it. It is, by far, the best attachment I own. Because of it, I bring my KA with me when I visit Zia just so we can have an easier time making our ravioli or pasta. :)
      I cannot wait for your pasta recipe. After that ravioli recipe you shared — as well as virtually everything you’ve ever posted — I know this recipe will be special. I’ll be pinning it for sure! :)

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  37. Another great recipe. My file of your recipes is growing. My family has enjoyed the ones I prepared for them. I will start taking photos of them the next time I use one. Maybe on Friday I will prepare this one. I’ll let you know. Thanks for all your instructions and the hard work you put into your posts.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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  38. Oh I remember that pickled peppers and have been waiting for you to pull them out his winter. What a great recipe to use them in! I bet they were great with the saltiness of the sardines and then the pasta to balance it all out. Great recipe and clever recovery from opening the wrong can. :)

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    • Thank you, MJ. The fact is, I’ve been hanging onto those peppers. I didn’t preserve all that many and have been afraid that, once I opened one jar, the rest would be opened shortly thereafter. I haven’t opened any others yet, but, I know it won’t be long. They were really good and, just for the reasons you mentioned, were perfect in this pasta dish. It’s only a matter of time now before the others are gone. :)

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  39. Hello John my teenagers loved your recipe for the aglio e olio so I know that I can sneak a few extra flavors and they will love it as well. This is one of those great well stocked pantry dishes, even if you are snowed in you could whip up a fantastic little meal in no time flat. John I have been having a big problem with all of my comments going into everyones spam inbox. Can you let me know if you get this message. I am following you I guess silently. Please bear with me until I get this resolved. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buona notte, BAM. If your teens like the aglio e olio, then you can certainly bring some other ingredients into the mix. These sardine fillets aren’t as dominating a flavor as I had feared. Your guys may not mind them at all. Of course, if they do mind, that just means you’ll actually be able to eat your fill, for a change. :)
      I hope your “Spam” problems are well on their way to being resolved. I’ll keep an eye on my spam folder, just in case. Have a great day, I’m heading to bed.

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  40. Ok I think my last response went to your spam inbox so going to try again… Hello John my teenagers loved your recipe for the aglio e olio so I know that I can sneak a few extra flavors and they will love it as well. This is one of those great well stocked pantry dishes, even if you are snowed in you could whip up a fantastic little meal in no time flat. John I have been having a big problem with all of my comments going into everyones spam inbox. Can you let me know if you get this message. I am following you I guess silently. Please bear with me until I get this resolved. Take Care, BAM

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  41. Pingback: Pasta of the Last Minute: Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers | As You Want Dishes | Scoop.it

  42. What a delighful post John! Your pasta looks wonderful, I think that I will have to invest in some canned sardines for a delicious quick dinner when there is little time to cook! Thank you for sharing!

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    • You’re very welcome. That’s the best thing about this pasta — aside form the taste — is how quick you can get it onto the dinner table. I hope you’ll try it and find out for yourself. :)

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    • Like many peppers, they range in heat. Some, in fact, are pretty mild. These were very much like jalapenos. I’m hunting for seeds that will produce hotter cherry peppers for next year.

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  43. Pingback: Pasta of the Last Minute: Linguini Fini with Sardines & Pickled Cherry Peppers | Bella Vallone - Luxury Holidays In Le Marche | Scoop.it

  44. Oh I’ve done that many a time John, picked something up and not realised till later my mistake; just shows I should concentrate more!
    Love sardines, fresh or canned. Love those peppery tomato thingies. Love pasta. Love the idea! But it will be a dish for one as I know my partner won’t touch sardines, which is reasonable considering he’s a vegetarian ;)

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  45. Had to laugh as we are having the aglio e olio tonight! dressed with pancetta, sundried tomatoes and parmesan. We have been feasting this last week, I have been in heaven and I still have more to go! I love this food! Love pickled peppers too but all of ours are gone! have a lovely afternoon, now I am off to check the weather, they say there may be snow on the way, and an easterly wind is picking up.. we will see.. c

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    • Sounds like you’re had one great dinner! Since we really can’t get any “good” tomatoes in Winter, I use sun-dried quite a bit. Love ‘em. I’m sending away for cherry pepper seeds. Next Summer I’m canning more. They’re so good!
      Good luck with the snow. It just started here. :)

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    • Thanks, Conor. We are way too far inland to have any kind of fresh sardines, let alone to have an experience like yours. That sounds absolutely fantastic, a one-of-a-kind meal. Good for you!

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  46. But evidently this so IS you…what a fabulous job you did improvising and turning this into a gorgeous pasta dish, John. I love the colors and the Bartolini breadcrumbs are so perfect, well, I could actually eat those by themselves! This dish might actually be enough to get me to try sardines again…but am glad to know I could sub shrimp in case I lost my nerve. :)

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  47. Pingback: Come on in and sit right down and make yourself at home | elladee_words

  48. What a great save at the end John. That’s truly what being a great home cook is all about…whether it’s the budget, the “what’s in the cupboard?” dilemma, or simply getting the “wrong” ingredient at the store…it’s the how to run with THAT which separates the good from the great John and apparently you conquered the Sardines with no problem whatsoever. I guess you are now officially ready for “Chopped”. The Bartolini crumb topping I have not doubt will be making an appearance at my house very soon. Take care.

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    • You’re very kind, Geni. Chopped fascinates me. I could never compete. I’d make a frittata for the appetizer and pastas for the main and dessert courses. And considering the contents of most baskets, those would be 2 nasty pastas!
      I’m going to use that breading mixture a few more times in the weeks ahead — with subtle changes. This is why it gets used on so many of our dishes. It’s not just easy to make but adaptable. Stay tuned …

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  49. We love improv at our place and we tend to come up with some really crazy (but good) things that never make their why to the blog. I mean there is only some much crazy gluttony that people can take, right?

    Kudos to you thinking on your feet and outside of your comfort zone to come up with a delicious dish.

    Have a great weekend my friend!

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  50. My sister used to make sardines pasta during the Lent season and now my wife. It’s amazing how something s simple as a sardines, when cooked right creates the most amazing , delicious meal. Great post my friend. Once again, your talent sizzles and excites the taste buds.

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    • Thank you so much. You’re very kind. Although I’d never had sardines with pasta before this, I’m a big fan now. As you say, it’s amazing something so simple can deliver such favor. I hope you’ll like the white anchovy pasta recipe I’ll be posting in a couple weeks. :)

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  51. Hi John! This dish looks amazing, turned out to be a blessing in disguise! I am a huge planner as well! I’m always constantly checking the baking/cooking events that I’m participating and trying to scribbling down desserts-to-bake and meals-to-cook in my notebook, then trying to fit the dates so that I can get the posts up on the right dates. It can be both fun and frustrating sometimes!

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    • How I know what you mean, Jasline! Right now 5 or 6 of my posts scheduled and some photos have been taken. This gives me plenty of time to edit and take new shots if, miraculously, the Sun shines one afternoon. :)

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  52. Hi, John–Aglio y Olio is our go-to late night dish, often with a whatever little something is around to give it a different wrinkle–anchovies, parsley, marinated peppers. Sardines and pickled cherry peppers sounds like a great combo. Definitely on the to-do list. Thanks. Ken

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    • Thanks, Ken. As you certainly are aware, knowing how to make a simple dish like aglio e olio opens up a great many other dishes to you. A great meal needn’t be complicated.

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  53. I’m like you, I could just stare forever at the pantry while Hubs can just take the most random things to make a dish… This sounds fantastic, barring the sardines – just not feeling fish right now, but I trust that it turned out delicious. (Oh, and the sardine/anchovie mix up – so me right now, but I’m lucky enough to blame pregnancy brain.)

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  54. John, I am always scouring my cupboards for ingredients that sound like they’d work together. I keep a pretty well stocked larder but often I’ll buy something that I plan to use and end up doing something else. Today I am looking a cauliflower that keeps looking back at me and will have to get creative with it as my other half can smell it coming (sorry) a mile away. :)

    Sardines are not my favorite but Aglio e olio is my other half’s favorite way for me to prepare pasta and he likes sardines and feels highly deprived that he never finds them in anything. Perhaps I will surprise him with this lovely dish. Susie

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    • Thank you, Susie. Your seek and create methods are so not me — unless we’re talking about pasta. I can make a pasta out of just about anything — but that’s where my creativity ends. I really don’t keep many pantry items for I haven’t a need to. Now that I don’t work, I can get to a grocery store whenever I need something — like that day’s main course for dinner.

      I knew that, for many, the sardines in this dish wouldn’t be so well-received. In fact, I’m rather surprised how many people said they liked them. I myself never had sardines as a boy. It was only when I was much older that I first tried them. Had I not bought them by mistake, it may have taken me years to try them in pasta. As it is, I’m glad I made the mistake. This pasta really worked for me.

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  55. John, you will hate me forever, but I haven;t warmed up to sardines yet.. I try, and try, and try… and I cannot seem to get past its fishy taste… but, I haven’t given up…

    as to improvising, I think I’m a lot like you, I need to plan things out, improvisation is not my forte

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    • Thank you, Karen, for leaving such a nice compliment. I think the worst part of this, for me, was the realization that for 2 weeks never once did I see that the word “Sardines” was on the packaging. It wasn’t until I opened the tin and saw the sardine fillets that I realized my mistake. I need to pay more attention. Heaven only knows what else may be lurking in a cupboard. :)

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  56. Pingback: Spaghetti with White Anchovies & Capers | from the Bartolini kitchens

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