Sardine Pasta is a light and fresh pasta dish and perfect for summer. It's also an easy way to include more fish in your diet. Ready in less than 15 minutes, with just a few ingredients, this is easy enough to put together on a busy week night, but also impressive enough to serve guests.
We love a quick and easy pasta dish and this one is bursting with flavour. Spaghetti coated in a fresh and zesty lemon based sauce with shallots, spinach and a little red chilli for a kick and delicious chunks of sardine.
Why you will love it
- Quick and easy - This pasta dish is ready in under 15 minutes, as it just takes as long as the pasta takes to cook. Minimal effort too!
- A new way to eat fish - If you are trying to get more fish in your diet, then this is a great place to start because it uses tinned fish, so there is no need to cook fish.
- Adaptable - Use this recipe as a base and then adapt it with adding different vegetables.
- Sardines - Skinless and boneless sardine fillets are used here.
- Pasta - We used spaghetti as we find that the sauce clings really well to it. However, any pasta will work here so there is no need to buy anything special - just use what you have.
- Oil - A generous amount of olive oil is used to cook the shallots in and helps to create a sauce.
- Shallots - These add a lovely sweetness to the dish. You could swap them for a small onion if you prefer.
- Garlic - Freshly crushed is best, however you could us frozen garlic to save some time.
- Lemon - We used juice and zest to add a real bust of lemon flavour.
- Spinach - This adds a nice green boost. You could swap it for kale if you prefer.
- Parsley - Fresh herbs help to lighten it up. You can swap it for dill which goes nicely with fish.
- Salt and pepper - Season to taste.
- Chilli flakes - These add a nice kick of spice to the pasta, but they are totally optional so you could leave them out. You could always sprinkle some on just before serving if you wanted some but someone else didn't.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - These not only add some colour, but a lovely flavour. You could also add some olives to keep with the Mediterranean vibe.
- Pasta water - Adding starchy pasta water (just 100ml is enough) to a fat like olive oil will create an emulsion and this gives a really silky smooth sauce and helps it cling to the pasta. Make sure you scoop out the water just before draining, as this ensures that it is nice and starchy.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make sardine pasta - Step by step
One: Cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions - normally 10-12 minutes.
Two: Heat the oil in a pan and add the shallots (a). Cook the shallots until softened, about 2 minutes (b).
Three: Add the garlic and chilli. Stir and cook for a further minutes.
Four: About 2 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked, add the spinach to the water.
Five: Add the sardines (a), lemon juice and zest, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes and salt and pepper to the shallots (b). Gently stir to avoid breaking up the sardines too much (c). Simmer for a few minutes (d).
Six: Drain the spaghetti and spinach, reserving a small amount of pasta water.
Seven: Add the drained spaghetti, spinach and reserved water to the sardine mix (a). Mix well and serve (b).
Health benefits of sardines
We all know that oily fish is good for us, but do you know why? Sardines are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They also reduce the risk of blood clots and lower blood pressure.
Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B-12, which helps your cardiovascular system and gives you energy. They also contain a good amount of vitamin D, which helps promote good bone health throughout your life. If you are allergic to dairy, then sardines are a great addition to your diet, as they are a good source of protein.
Also, because they feed on plankton only, it means that they don’t contain the high levels of mercury that other fish do. However, as they naturally contain a substance that creates uric acid this can cause kidney and gout issues for people that already suffer from these problems.
Pasta - Any pasta shape goes here and it is a great way to use up what you already have in your cupboard. If you want to make this even quicker, then you can use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in minutes.
Vegetables - This is a great recipe to add some extra vegetables to. We have added some spinach for a green boost, but there are lots of other options too. Why not finely dice some courgette and bell pepper and cook it at the same time as the shallots? You could also cook some broccoli and cauliflower at the same time as the pasta.
Cheese - We wouldn't usually serve cheese with pasta, however if you wanted to add some then some grated Parmesan or crumbled feta will work really well.
What to serve with Sardine Pasta
If you want to bulk this meal out a bit, then serve it with some garlic bread. Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Why not try our Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread?
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad, or Cucumber and Radish Salad.
This sardine pasta is best eaten fresh as the leftovers don't reheat very well. However, if you don't mind eating it cold then you could store any leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container until the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you use your favourite gluten free pasta and make sure that there is no cross contamination, then this is a delicious gluten free meal.
No, it is best to make this fresh.
Because it's an easy way to make the sauce really silky smooth, with no extra effort.
You can easily double this recipe and it doesn't change the cooking time. Just make sure that you have a big enough frying pan to hold double the ingredients.
Yes, you can olive oil and lemon for a tomato based sauce. Why not try our Easy Pasta Sauce recipe?
More seafood pasta recipes
- 140 g (5 oz) Spaghetti
- 2 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 Shallots - finely diced
- 3 Garlic clove - crushed
- 1 Lemon - juice and zest only
- 80 g (2.66 cups) Spinach
- 160 g (5.66 oz) Sardines - canned
- 7 g (0.25 cups) Fresh parsley - finely chopped
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes - (less if preferred)
- 50 g (0.5 cups) Sun-dried tomatoes - chopped
- Cook 140 g Spaghetti according to the packet instructions - normally 10-12 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoon Olive oil in a pan and cook 2 Shallots until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add 3 Garlic clove and 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes. Stir and cook for a further minutes.
- About 2 minutes before the spaghetti is cooked, add 80 g Spinach to the water.
- Add 160 g Sardines, juice and zest of 1 Lemon, 7 g Fresh parsley, 50 g Sun-dried tomatoes and 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper to the shallots. Gently stir to avoid breaking up the sardines too much.
- Drain the spaghetti and spinach, reserving a small amount of pasta water.
- Add the drained spaghetti, spinach and reserved water to the sardine mix. Mix well and serve.
- To make this even quicker, use some fresh tagliatelle which is ready in a few minutes.
- Don't forget to reserve some of the pasta water. You really don't want to skip this step, as it makes the sauce so silky.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the pan before serving for an extra boost of flavour.
- Serve with extra Parmesan and cracked black pepper if you like.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.