Pasta with Smoked Sardines

This was one of those unintended successful dinners. I had planned to make a nice homemade corn chowder, however that takes time. Yes, the kind with real corn and soaked black beans. The no shortcuts kinda corn chowder. And actually the kind of chowder, sans the chowder, since what defines chowder is that’s it’s actually a thick, rich soup made with cream. Mine is without cream. So I guess I will just have to call corn soup. How utterly dull. How about spicy black bean and roasted corn soup? Somehow that has a much more appetizing melody.

So, with the sun shining and feeling the need to soak up those last rays of summer, we decided meet some friends in the neighborhood for a glass rosé. Arriving home at 8pm and knowing that my good intentions for dinner would likely take a good hour and a half, there was no chance at making “chowder”. Instead we scoured the fridge to see what we could come up with.

Dinner in a hurry — on the fly. That requires a little creativity. So what do you do with radishes, cilantro, lemons and a can of smoked sardines? Carrots are always on hand, but…pass. Good ole google came through. Brilliant. This recipe is adapted from one I accidentally stumbled upon on Bon Appetit. I changed a number of things but it’s inspiration and essence are basically the same. Quite delicious, quite by mistake.

Pasta with Smoked Sardines

For this pasta with smoked sardines recipe, I used the smoked sardines I had on hand, which were from Portugal and already cleaned, meaning the backbones were removed. If they are not already prepared, then split them in half lengthwise with a knife and removing backbones before using. I also used Mafaldine, since I didn’t have any other pasta on hand. Mafaldine is also known as Reginette (Italian for “little queens”). It’s actually one of my favorites with its long, flat, wide, ribbon-shape.

Pasta with Smoked Sardines
3.59 from 12 votes

Pasta with Smoked Sardines and Lemon

For this pasta with smoked sardines recipe, I used the smoked sardines from Portugal and tossed it in a white wine lemon sauce with fresh radishes and cilantro leaves.
Course Main Course
Category Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Autor Elle


  • 1 x 90 g can smoked sardines in olive oil (net weight 65 g)
  • 300 g Mafaldine or other dried pasta plus 1 cup of cooking liquid reserved (250 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (125 ml)
  • 5 radishes, trimmed, quartered
  • juice of 2 organic lemons
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves removed
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain reserving 1 cup (240 ml) pasta cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add white wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 more minutes.
  3. Add pasta, radishes, sardines, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) pasta cooking liquid to pot. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring and if needed, add more pasta cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until the pasta is coated. Stir in lemon juice, cilantro and remaining olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Enjoy!

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