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Go Fish: Linguine with Mackerel and Tomatoes

Tinned fish is having a bit of a moment right now. Lauded for being (relatively) inexpensive, jam-packed with nutrients, and incredibly versatile, cans of tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon, and anchovies, are the shelf-stable superheroes every pantry needs.  


The question is, what in the world to make with them? 


We’re all familiar with the budget-friendly tuna casseroles, fish cakes made with salmon, and the umami punch that a little bit of anchovy can instill into anything from Caesar salads to pasta. And, heaven knows my mom adores a good sardine sandwich, with slivers of onion on rye bread. I haven’t jumped on this train yet, no matter how much she shouts its wonders from the rooftops. But it's the tins of mackerel that always mystified me.  


Would it taste and smell too “fishy” and have the little bits of bone and “stuff” like sardines? I think for this reason I always ignored it, until someone urged me to try it in pasta. And now, I’m a convert and will forever and always have tins of mackerel in my pantry. The thing is mackerel is incredibly smooth, almost buttery, with the perfect touch of salt. It’s not too fishy at all! This often-overlooked oily fish is one of the best sources for omega 3 fatty acids, and is abundant in protein, and Vitamin D. What’s not to love about that?  


This pasta recipe is a great way to try canned mackerel. It’s inspired by the Mediterranean, so there’s heaps of tomatoes, peppers, garlic, olives (if you like), lemon, and fresh herbs. The great thing about mackerel is that it is already in a tin with olive oil. You just dump the canned fish and the olive oil it’s with, into a hot skillet along with some minced garlic. Let this cook for a bit, and you can break up the larger chunks of fish with the back of your wooden spoon. Once it’s full of fun aromas, you can add the vegetables and olives. Give it a stir and let it get saucy and thick, about ten minutes should do. Simply add the hot linguine to this and toss to evenly coat. It really is that easy!  


The butteriness of the mackerel really shines in this fresh and flavourful sauce. The acidity of the lemon juice and the heat from the red pepper flakes are the perfect partners to the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers. All that’s needed is a little (or a lot) of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and maybe some crusty bread on the side for sopping up any gorgeous sauce left behind. This one is a winner, and even those who aren't fond of fish are going to love it.  


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