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Pasta With Mackerel, Marsala & Pine Nuts

by . Featured in NIGELLISSIMA
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Introduction

This is a real hybrid of a recipe: I'm afraid it might even, in Anna Del Conte's disapproving parlance, be called "Britalian". But I defend it, because I strongly believe that its honest evolution needs no apology. The inspiration lies in the fabulous pasta con le sarde, the traditional Sicilian pasta with sardines, capers and currants or sultanas and wild fennel. I wanted to make a faster version that came from our larder rather than the Mediterranean. The English larder stalwart, smoked mackerel, begged to be tried and in this instance fortune truly did favour the brave.

What this emphatically is not is pasta con le sarde, to be sure. But in and of itself it works. More than that, it delights. And it happens to be an incredibly useful storecupboard standby.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is a real hybrid of a recipe: I'm afraid it might even, in Anna Del Conte's disapproving parlance, be called "Britalian". But I defend it, because I strongly believe that its honest evolution needs no apology. The inspiration lies in the fabulous pasta con le sarde, the traditional Sicilian pasta with sardines, capers and currants or sultanas and wild fennel. I wanted to make a faster version that came from our larder rather than the Mediterranean. The English larder stalwart, smoked mackerel, begged to be tried and in this instance fortune truly did favour the brave.

What this emphatically is not is pasta con le sarde, to be sure. But in and of itself it works. More than that, it delights. And it happens to be an incredibly useful storecupboard standby.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Pasta with Mackerel
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 2

Metric Cups
  • 50 grams golden sultanas or regular sultanas
  • 200 grams linguine
  • salt for pasta water (to taste)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot (peeled and finely chopped)
  • 60 millilitres marsala
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets (skinned and flaked)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons drained capers in brine
  • 3 - 4 drops red wine vinegar
  • 1 handful fresh dill (torn into fronds)
  • 25 grams toasted pinenuts
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins or regular sultanas
  • 8 ounces linguine
  • salt for pasta water (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 banana shallot (peeled and finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup marsala
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets (skinned and flaked)
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers in brine
  • 3 - 4 drops red wine vinegar
  • 1 handful fresh dill (torn into fronds)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pinenuts

Method

  1. Put water on to boil for the pasta, then put the sultanas into a cup and pour hot water from a recently boiled kettle over them, enough to cover.
  2. Salt the pasta water when it boils and cook the linguine according to packet instructions (though check a good 2 minutes before they're meant to be ready) and start on the sauce once the pasta's in and the water has come back to the boil.
  3. Warm the oil in a frying pan, then cook the chopped shallot for about 2 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the Marsala and let it bubble, then straightaway add the mackerel flakes, the sultanas (after sqeezing out the water), the drained capers and a few scant drops of red wine vinegar. As soon as the mackerel is warm, remove it from the heat. There will be almost no liquid left in the pan: this is a dry sauce, so be prepared.
  5. Just before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of the starchy cooking liquid, which will be used to help the sauce amalgamate with the linguine later.
  6. Put the drained pasta back into its own pan, then tip in the contents of the mackerel pan along with half the dill and half the pinenuts and a tablespoon or so of pasta-cooking liquid, and toss gently but throughly to combine. Taste to see if you want any more vinegar.
  7. Divide between 2 warmed bowls and scatter the remaining dill and pinenuts on top.
  1. Put water on to boil for the pasta, then put the sultanas into a cup and pour hot water from a recently boiled kettle over them, enough to cover.
  2. Salt the pasta water when it boils and cook the linguine according to packet instructions (though check a good 2 minutes before they're meant to be ready) and start on the sauce once the pasta's in and the water has come back to the boil.
  3. Warm the oil in a frying pan, then cook the chopped shallot for about 2 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add the Marsala and let it bubble, then straightaway add the mackerel flakes, the sultanas (after sqeezing out the water), the drained capers and a few scant drops of red wine vinegar. As soon as the mackerel is warm, remove it from the heat. There will be almost no liquid left in the pan: this is a dry sauce, so be prepared.
  5. Just before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of the starchy cooking liquid, which will be used to help the sauce amalgamate with the linguine later.
  6. Put the drained pasta back into its own pan, then tip in the contents of the mackerel pan along with half the dill and half the pinenuts and a tablespoon or so of pasta-cooking liquid, and toss gently but throughly to combine. Taste to see if you want any more vinegar.
  7. Divide between 2 warmed bowls and scatter the remaining dill and pinenuts on top.

Tell us what you think

What 1 Other has said

  • What a combination of flavours! We really enjoyed this recipe. Used penne, all I had. Lovely. Thanks

    Posted by P1947 on 5th August 2020
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