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Sardines with Spinach and Linguine

Sardines with Spinach and Linguine

Welcome to Vital Choice at Home!

This series features me, Michelle – a writer and soccer mom from the Rocky Mountains – my husband and two kids, some beautiful Vital Choice seafood, and lots of regular home cooking.
(Click here to learn more about me, below.)
I want to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test? Email me and help to shape this series.

As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. 
We're lucky enough to have an organic farm just down the road, and my birthday present to myself each year is a 21-week farm share.
Each Monday we pick up a generous portion of whatever's ripe that week. This week's share included some freshly-picked baby spinach and crisp radishes.
This simple recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, with a few key changes, based on our preferences and what was in the pantry.
If you don't like radishes, but want to keep some crunch, use more red onion, or substitute shredded cabbage — preferably red/purple for a bit of color.
Whole grain pasta with sardines, spinach and radishes
Pasta with sardines is a common Italian dish — often served with capers, red pepper flakes and bread crumbs.
I had one can of Portuguese Sardines in Water in the pantry, and that was the base around which this recipe was built. Mine served two — just multiply the ingredients to serve more.
I previously experimented with Portuguese sardine fillets in a variety of snacks — this was my first sardine-based main course.
I was thrilled with how simple it was, yet full of complex flavor, thanks  in part to the luscious umami taste sensation provided by the inosinate in the sardines and the glutamate in the Parmesan.
As you can see from this photo of the cutting board, the ingredients are few, quickly prepped and easily adapted. I encourage you to change this up based on what you have in the fridge.
To start, I cooked some whole grain linguine until it was just al dente.
When the pasta was done, I held back a bit of pasta water for the sauce (just in case), but I didn't end up using it. 
However, I'd recommend saving a bit, just in case your pan sauce needs a bit more liquid, or if you prefer to skip the white wine.
Next, I sautéed some red onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in a bit of olive oil. Feel free to use whatever you have – shallots would be excellent here. I like a bit of heat, but the red pepper flakes are absolutely optional.
Then I added sliced radishes, a few handfuls of fresh spinach and a splash of white wine (about 2 tablespoons) and half of the can of sardines, and let it simmer just until the spinach was wilted, just a few minutes.
Any spring greens would be great here — the original recipe called for kale, but spinach was what we had in the fridge.
Lastly, I stirred in a bit of fresh lemon juice, added salt and pepper, and topped with the remaining sardine fillets and served.
The sardines are scrumptious, and pair beautifully with the fresh greens. The radishes add a wonderful, crisp texture that is a nice counterpoint to the wilted spinach and sardine fillets.
I love the flavor of the reduced white wine and lemon juice — it's very bright. However, if that's not to your taste, a simple sauce can also be made with just a bit of the pasta water and lemon juice.
My rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Sardine Fillets with Spinach, Radishes and Whole-Grain Linguine
Serves two

  • ½ lb. whole-grain linguine (or less if preferred)
  • 1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, minced (or more if not using radish)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups spinach leaves (or more if preferred)
  • ¼ cup radishes, sliced thinly (or sliced red/purple cabbage)
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (or pasta water)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can Portuguese Sardine Fillets OR regular bone-in Sardines
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

  1. Cook the linguine until al dente.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium heat, then sauté onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until translucent.
  3. Add white wine, spinach, radishes and half the sardines, and simmer until spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Add salt and pepper as needed, then top with the remaining sardine fillets.

A Note from Michelle
Like you, I have a passion for beautiful-yet-healthy food that's easy to prepare.
While I do love making the occasional "fancy” dinner, most of the time I'm short on time and have a house full of hungry people who want to eat NOW.
I'm not a professional chef – I'm just a busy mom who loves to cook and who's focused on that intersection of healthy and delicious.
I want this series to feature the products and preparations you're curious about.
Have a suggestion? Question? Recipe you want me to test?
Email me and help to shape this series.
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