Squid ink tagliarini with pan fried sardines and tomato, chilli and basil sauce


  • Serves 6 people

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 baby fennel bulb, thinly sliced widthways
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 20 gm (1 tbsp) butter
  • 12 butterflied sardines, halved and trimmed
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) basil leaves, coarsely torn
  • To serve: finely grated rind of 1 lemon and extra-virgin olive oil
  • Squid ink pasta
  • 400 gm (2 2/3 cups) plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 60 gm squid ink (see note)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • Tomato, chilli and basil sauce
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 55 gm (¼ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ cup (firmly packed) basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 800 gm canned whole tomatoes
01   For squid ink pasta, process ingredients and a pinch of salt in a food processor until dough just comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth. Wrap with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces then, using a pasta machine with rollers at the widest setting, feed one piece at a time (keep remaining pieces wrapped) through rollers. Fold in half lengthways, feed through rollers again, repeating until smooth, then reduce settings notch by notch, feeding and rolling until dough is 1mm thick. Using the linguine cutting attachment, feed pasta through cutters, dust liberally with flour, then hang over a rod to dry. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Hang until dry (3-6 hours or overnight), then store in a container in a cool dry place. Pasta will keep for up to 3 days.
02   For tomato, chilli and basil sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan, add onion and stir over medium heat until soft and translucent (7-10 minutes). Add brown sugar, garlic, chilli and basil, stirring occasionally until sugar starts to caramelise (7-10 minutes). Add tomato, stir to combine, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until a third of the liquid evaporates (45-60 minutes) and sauce is thick. Season to taste. Makes 1 litre.
03   Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan, add onion, fennel and zucchini and cook over medium heat until soft (3-5 minutes). Add tomato sauce and cook until heated through (5-7 minutes). Season to taste and keep warm.
04   Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add butter, remaining olive oil and sardines skin-side down and cook until crisp and just cooked through (2-3 minutes), don’t turn over as they will dry out. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente (1-2 minutes). Drain well, add to sauce in pan, toss gently to combine, then add basil leaves and serve immediately topped with sardines, scattered with lemon rind and drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.
Note Squid ink is available from select fishmongers and delicatessens.







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