Jack Monroe's easy sardinesca recipe

Like a puttanesca sauce but with sardines in place of the anchovies, this simple store-cupboard pasta recipe works well with any strongly flavoured tinned fish.

Olives are considerably cheaper if you buy them in jars from the pickles and preserves section of the supermarket than from the fridge aisles – and you get a free jar to boot!

Serves 4


2 x 120g tins of sardines in oil

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

200ml vegetable, fish or chicken stock

2 tbsp pitted olives of any kind, finely chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice, or any kind of vinegar

Salt and black pepper

280g spaghetti or other pasta

Fish on a budget

Fish needn’t be expensive when cooking on a budget, says Jack Monroe.

‘Tinned sardines are incredibly cheap and extremely nutritious, as well as very versatile. Fish paste and crab paste are staples in my home store cupboard for knocking together a quick pasta sauce or soup, or even folding into instant mash with a little cheese for ultra-budget but very delicious fishcakes.

‘Fish fillets are far cheaper to buy from the freezer department of the supermarket than the fresh counter; simply pop the required number of fillets out of the freezer the night before and put them in a food-safe bag or a bowl in the fridge to defrost, then cook as you would a fresh fillet.’


1. Tip the sardines into a saucepan, removing any large bones, and mash lightly with a fork. Add the tomatoes, stock and olives, then add the lemon juice or vinegar and plenty of black pepper, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes; you may need to add a splash of water to stop it from drying out. When the sauce is cooked, remove it from the heat and leave to cool.

2. Cook the pasta in a pan of plenty of boiling salted water for 8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Drain and add to the sauce, and warm through to serve.

3. Want so save it for another day? Allow to cool completely, then seal in airtight bags or a lidded container. Will keep in the fridge for three days, or freezer for three months.

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