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pasta with haddock

pasta with haddockI am the first to admit that we don’t enough fish (mea culpa).  The Mayo Clinic recommends two servings a week.  Some weeks we eat that and some weeks we don’t…especially when we’re on a vegetarian kick or the carnivore in me takes over.  The fish balance is a thin line for me.  I need a craving for fish otherwise it just isn’t going to make it to the table.  We have been watching a mini series, Italy Unpacked, with art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon and Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli.  The series focuses on different regions of Italy where they both share their knowledge of Italy’s culture and cuisine.  The episode featuring Sicily caught my attention.  Giorgio made a simple traditional Sicilian pasta dish with fresh sardines dotted with sultanas – yes, sultanas.  It stems from the Arabic influence that helped define Sicily’s food by combining fruits, meats, nuts, vegetables, herbs, spices – like cumin, saffron and sumac.

There’s nothing more contagious for me than to see someone cook with passion and enthusiasm.  It fires me up and while watching this episode, my mouth watered.  I wanted to make it right then and there!  But there’s a problem with this dish.  I don’t like small fish because of the bones – a phobia of mine.  If I’m going to eat fish it has to be filleted, no ifs, ands, or buts.  Also, finding fresh sardines can be a challenge.  Of course tinned sardines are available and would have worked in a pinch but the ones I found either were packed in a tomato sauce or a hot sauce.  Line-caught haddock was calling out my name when I entered Afishionado’s shop.

Serves 4
3 to 4 haddock fillets, chopped into chunks
4 to 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, roughly chopped
good splash of extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sultanas (aka Thompson Seedless)
pinch of saffron (optional)
handful fennel fronds, finely chopped or use fresh dill, chopped
spaghetti or other thick spaghetti-like pasta

In a large pot of salted boiling water, add pasta and cook according to instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook until translucent then add the anchovies, stirring until they dissolve. Add sultanas, saffron, and stir followed by tomato paste and a spoonful of pasta water.  Bring to a boil, adding just enough water to make a sauce. Reduce heat to medium and toss in the haddock and chopped fennel or dill. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly, stir and cook until fish starts to break up – about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain pasta but keep some of the water. Toss pasta into the haddock sauce.  If needed, add a spoonful of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce.  Serve immediately and top with fresh fennel or dill.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you’re not sure about adding the sultanas, halve the amount but don’t leave them out.  The sweetness from the sultanas go well with the saltiness from the anchovies.  This meal is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta.  Enjoy!

pasta with haddock
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 to 4 haddock fillets, chopped into chunks
  • 4 to 6 anchovy fillets packed in oil, roughly chopped
  • good splash of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas (aka Thompson Seedless)
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
  • handful fennel fronds, finely chopped or use fresh dill, chopped
  • spaghetti or other thick spaghetti-like pasta
Instructions
  1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, add pasta and cook according to instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pan heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion. Cook until translucent then add the anchovies, stirring until they dissolve. Add sultanas, saffron, and stir followed by tomato paste and a spoonful of pasta water. Bring to a boil, adding just enough water to make a sauce. Reduce heat to medium and toss in the haddock and chopped fennel or dill. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly, stir and cook until fish starts to break up – about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Drain pasta but keep some of the water. Toss pasta into the haddock sauce. If needed, add a spoonful of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately and top with fresh fennel or dill.
Notes
The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you’re not sure about adding the sultanas, halve the amount but don’t leave them out. The sweetness from the sultanas go well with the saltiness from the anchovies. This meal is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Enjoy!

 

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