I knew the only way I was going to get to try this dish was to make it for a solitary lunch, or as a meal for two with my youngest son who adores oily fish the way I do. You see, my husband and older son think any fish that isn't pure white is cat food. Joey and I are BIG fish eaters. We'll eat anything that swims. But when I buy salmon, tuna, sardines, ocean trout... for us, I have to buy flathead, shark, snapper, whiting... for them. That doesn't just mean buying different fish, it also means cooking them separately too. My husband freaks if he sees my salmon in the same pan as his shark. Comes in handy sometimes though. Whenever I don't want to share my meal with him at a restaurant, I order the oily fish.
Spaghettoni with Sardines and Hazelnuts
adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigellissima
1 tablespoon sultanas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Marsala
2-3 cooked sardines, flaked
1 tablespoon drained capers
Few drops of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons chopped dill, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnut, roughly chopped
Put the sultanas into a cup and pour some boiling water over, just enough to cover.
Cook the Spaghettoni in boiling salted water until al dente.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently cook the shallot for about 2 minutes.
Add the Marsala and then the sardines, the drained and squeezed sultanas, the capers and the vinegar. You just need to warm the fish, then remove the pan from the heat.
Just before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water so you can use it to loosen the sauce if required.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with the dill and half of the hazelnuts. Give it a good toss and add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce is dry. Shake and toss the pan to emulsify the sauce and taste and adjust seasoning.
Pour into a bowl and garnish with extra dill fronds and hazelnuts.