Ugly But Worthy: Creamy Sardine And Tomato Pasta

The sadly late Anthony Bourdain was quoted as saying that poor cooks are often the most creative because they have to be (paraphrased horribly I hasten to add). Do I need to continue my gushy worship of Jack Monroe…you must have got it by now!

This is one of their recipes but adapted to suit what I had in my fridge that needed using up, and also, it continues my theme of rags-to-riches cooking. The ingredient that was given the star treatment perhaps erred on the side of dowdy as opposed to dismal, but this definitely allowed it to truly dazzle.


Ages ago, I purchased some Princes Sardine And Tomato paste  (which also has sprats and haddock in it) when I went through a huge tinned fish phase, and I’d opened it to have on some toasted slices of homemade bread earlier in the week, but knew it needed using very shortly. After spending a long time re-acquainting myself with Jack’s recipes, either earmarking some new ones to cook, or just getting ideas, I landed upon this – pasta with a sauce made from cheap salmon paste and yoghurt. I did a top-up essentials shop after work this morning and made sure to buy yoghurt (even though of late I’ve not been into smoothies so it’s vanished from my regular shopping) as I really liked the sound of this recipe.

I also had a bald lemon sitting in the fridge from another recipe so this was a perfect way to get rid of it.

To cut a waffle short, the main fish component has been changed, and I upped the lemon contingent so I can call this my own. Don’t be put off by it’s rain-soaked-cardboard colour, one taste, and it’s kerpow. A surprisingly zesty and uplifting summer lunch made with something you’d eat in sandwiches at Grange-Over-Sands on a rainy day.

Use any pasta shape you have knocking about – could be good either on short cut shapes or spaghetti.

Serves 1 but easily doubled.


Creamy Sardine And Tomato Pasta

Another dish that’s aesthetically challenged.


75g pasta, either penne (or other short shape) or spaghetti

1/2 onion, sliced

Pinch chilli flakes

1/2 tbsp oil

Juice of a small lemon (to taste, but I recommend at least half)

75ml/5tbsp fat free natural yoghurt (not a necessity, use whatever yoghurt you have in, just make sure it’s plain!)

About 3/4 of a 75g jar sardine and tomato paste (Princes isn’t essential here, it’s just what I had, if you can find own brand cheaper, use that)

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil, and add the pasta. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2.  Put the sliced onion into a small pan with the oil and lemon juice, and cook over a medium heat to soften. NOTE: I squeezed in the juice from half the lemon first, and when it evaporated off, I squeezed in the second half mainly to deglaze any brown bits off the pan but it’s down to how sharp you like it. Lemon is fish’s best partner after all.
  3. When the pasta is cooked but still al dente, remove from the heat and drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Quickly stir the yoghurt and fish paste into the onions to warm through – I took my eye off the pan for a touch too long and the yoghurt began to split, but that’s maybe because it was fat-free.
  4. Pour the sauce into the pasta pan, along with the reserved cooking water and heat through until the pasta has absorbed it, and then serve and prepare to be amazed.

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