When I was growing up, my whole family ate dinner together at 5:00 p.m. most nights. But every once in a while, when I was a little older, I’d find myself in the house by myself, and that’s when I’d make weird stuff for dinner. Like a whole box of Steak-Umms (liberally sprinkled with garlic salt and browned in a pan until crispy) and a few Eggo waffles, burnt and slathered with butter. With maybe half a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos for dessert.
Those were the days. Things are a little bit different in the kitchen now.
As you know from Well Fed and this blog, I la-la-love a theme dinner or international dinner party. But when I’m cooking for myself — in my pajamas, maybe watching Midsomer Murders with my plate in my lap and Smudge next to me — I don’t worry too much about food making sense together on the plate. I just eat whatever I feel like at that moment — which means it’s usually weird sh*t that would make Dave’s blood run cold. Chicken livers and spinach muffins. Or half-beef, half-liver Moroccan mini meatloaves (recipe coming; get psyched). Or fish.
I can only eat fish when Dave’s not home because he’s allergic and just the idea of me cooking it kinda gives him the willies. (Dave has many wonderful qualities, so I overlook this obvious gustatory flaw.)
Last night, I poked my head in the fridge and by-passed the luscious Greek Beef Stew (revamped in Well Fed as Cinnamon Beef Stew) and nice-and-normal, hard-boiled eggs, for the odds and ends leftover in plastic containers. I like nothing more than taking random ingredients out during a fridge purge to see what I can come up with.
about 1/2 cup of cooked spaghetti squash
about 1 1/2 cups raw zucchini noodles
the remains of a bunch of parsley
And for whatever reason, I was craving sardines. (Blame PMS, not pregnancy.)
Dinner was so on!
Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles with Sardines
The fish-infused olive oil from the sardines makes this slinky and luscious, without being overly fishy. It was light and super satisfying. Plus, with all those noodles, I could make giant, twirl-up bites on the fork. I LOVE A BIG BITE! This reminds me of linguine with white clam sauce, so you can easily replace the sardines with canned clams, if that’s your thing. This would probably also be tasty with tuna or salmon.
Serves 1 | Prep 5 min (if you already have the noodles in the fridge) | Cook 5 min
a pile of raw zucchini noodles and/or cooked spaghetti squash*
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 generous handful of fresh parsley, minced
1 can sardines packed in olive oil (I like Crown Prince.) — Do not drain the oil!
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat until it’s pretty darn hot. Add the veggies noodles and toss with two wooden spoons until the noodles are hot, but not mushy. You want them al dente. This takes, maybe, 2-3 minutes.
2. When the noodles are hot, turn the heat to medium-low, push the noodles to the side, and pour about 1 tablespoon of the oil from the sardines into the pan. Drop the crushed garlic right into the oil, and when it’s fragrant, toss the noodles with the wooden spoons again to coat them with the oil. Throw in the parsley, salt, pepper, and the sardines, breaking them up into chunks with the wooden spoon. Toss, toss, toss.
3. Pour onto a plate and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes. Twirl on a fork and shove into your well-deserving mouth.
*To make zucchini noodles: You need a julienne peeler like this or this. Julienne the zucchini and place in a colander or wire strainer. Toss generously with salt until the strands are lightly coated. Allow the zucchini to sit for 20-30 minutes to remove excess water. Rinse with running water, drain well, and pat dry with paper towels. At this point, you can store them in the fridge ’til you’re ready to eat them, or move right into cooking them. To cook, just quickly sauté in a dry pan for 3-5 minutes until they’re hot and tender, but not mushy.
*To roast spaghetti squash: Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water around it. Roast in a 375F oven for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool until you can handle it, then use a fork to shred the squash into noodle-y strands. Store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it.
Do you eat weird stuff when no one else can see you?
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