I’ve been a little fixated on sardines and anchovies lately. Ever since I discovered Giada de Laurentis’ Farfalle with Broccoli recipe, in which anchovies and garlic contribute to this incredible umami goodness, I was hooked. Then, later, I made Beer-Battered Fried Sardines with Lime at home and could not stop eating them. Granted, they were deep fried, and anything deep fried is almost automatically delicious, but I would have never thought to deep fry canned sardines in the first place.
As my brain wheels continued to turn, I searched for other recipes that featured my two new favorite fishes. Sidenote: did you know that when referring to more than one species of fish, the correct term is “fishes,” but when referring to more than one fish of the same species, the correct term is “fish?” It pays to be married to a marine biologist, I’m tellin’ ya’.
Anyway, so after some Pinterest browsing and light Google searching, I came across this recipe for Spaghetti with Fried Egg and Sardines from The Washington Post. It seemed to check all my favorite boxes: sardines, pasta, eggs, spinach… could it be my perfect recipe?
Well, it wasn’t perfect, but… I also didn’t follow all the directions. I made some changes and, after enjoying dinner with Rebecca, made some decisions about what I would do next time. Notably, I didn’t use preserved lemon because they are really expensive and I didn’t plan ahead enough to make my own. So I would put those back in for sure. Also, while the walnuts added a satisfying crunch to the recipe, I would definitely toast them first next time. Bringing out that earthy, buttery flavor even more will make this recipe that much better.
It’s going to smell smoky and fishy, so get ready for your cats to be hanging out with you in your kitchen for the a while.
With modifications, here is my recipe for Spaghetti with Fried Egg and Sardines (adapted from The Washington Post).
- 8 oz spaghetti
- 4 large eggs
- 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 oz walnuts, toasted and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and run through a garlic press (or finely minced)
- 2 cans quality smoked sardines in oil, drained and chopped
- 8 oz fresh baby spinach leaves (or more, if you prefer)
- 4 tsp. chopped preserved lemon
- Sea salt and pepper
- Grated parmesan cheese (as much or as little as you like)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, and reserve at least 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a coffee mug or low bowl.
Heat the olive oil in a wok fitted with a lid, over medium heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, slip the egg into the wok and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until the tops of the eggs are barely filmed over and the yolks are still runny. Transfer the eggs to a plate, and return the wok to the heat.
Add the chopped walnuts, garlic and sardines to the wok and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden but not brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach leaves; stir and toss with tongs until they wilt, about 2 minutes.
Add the spaghetti to the spinach/sardine/garlic/walnut mixture in the wok (over medium heat). Add the cooked egg and toss to combine, cutting up the egg in the process. Add the preserved lemon and some of the cooking liquid a little at a time, until the sauce is your desired consistency.
Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and a fresh grind of pepper, and enjoy. Serves 4.