Portuguese sardine pate (paté de sardinha)

Pate de sardinhaI’m keeping on a Portuguese theme this week, perhaps in an attempt to recapture holiday memories in these early days of autumn.

For me, Portugal is synonymous with sardines, an economical and delicious fish, and best served as fresh and as simply as possible. Although this Portuguese sardine pate recipe uses tinned sardines, it’s simplicity itself.

Paté de sardinha is ubiquitous in restaurants, arriving before a starter, alongside sourdough and salty grey-green olives. We always bulk buy it to bring home but it never lasts more a month in our house because it’s so popular, so making our own makes perfect sense.

This recipe is cheap, quick and easy, and is loaded with lots of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, as well as being high in calcium (if you buy the tinned sardine variety with bones left in) and protein. It’s good for breakfast, spread on toast which has first been rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil, or for a picnic dip with crackers. Or try it in sandwiches for a speedy lunch.

4 servings

Ingredients

2 tins of Portuguese sardines in sunflower oil, 120g each, oil drained and reserved

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp of sunflower oil, reserved from the sardines

2 tbsp of olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and chilli flakes to taste (I used a large pinch of each)

Method

Simply put all the ingredients in a jug and blend with a stick blender, or blend in a food processor.

Serve with toast or crackers.

Portuguese sardine pate

Sardine empanadillas

Sardine empanadillas

Whilst in Barcelona last week, I discovered a brilliant stall in the the local neighbourhood market, Mercat de Sant Antoni, which sold loads of different tapas dishes by the kilo. I was in heaven! I couldn’t resist stocking up on some of my favourites: espinacas a la Catalana (Catalan spinach), empanadillas de atún (tuna pastries), croquetas de bacalao (salt cod croquettes) and albóndigas de sepia (cuttlefish balls).

I love savoury pastries and I’ve often had empanadas – the bigger version of empanadillas – in Northern Spain, known as empanada Gallega (Galician empanada), usually filled with tuna, octopus or pork. When I make these pastries, I adapt the recipes from two of my best-loved cookbooks: Elizabeth Luard’s The Food of Spain and Portugal and Casa Moro.

When I returned home from Barcelona I was already missing empanadillas so decided to make my own. As I’d been away for the weekend, I had very little in the cupboard except tinned tomatoes and sardines, but those are the main ingredients of this recipe. You can also make these empanadillas with tinned tuna; just make sure it’s MSC-marked and replace the rosemary with thyme. And if you’re pushed for time or not in a pastry-making mood, you can always use shop-bought puff pastry.

Empanadillas are great in lunchboxes, or for picnics, parties or tapas. If I make an empanada, we’ll have it for dinner alongside roasted cubed potatoes with chopped rosemary, which you can cook at the same time as the pastries (although they take twice as long, about 30 minutes).

The slow-cooked tomato sauce that makes up the filling is called a sofrito in Spain and is really versatile, cheap and easy to make. Use it as a pasta sauce with or without the tinned fish, or to go with meatballs or baked white fish.

Ingredients

Pastry

500g strong white bread flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sweet paprika

2 tsp or 1 sachet of dried yeast

80 ml lukewarm milk

140 ml lukewarm water

100ml olive oil

1 egg, beaten

Polenta

Filling

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red and 1 green pepper, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tin of tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

¼ tsp salt

pinch of sugar

½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)

250g tinned sardines

Method

Mix all the dry dough ingredients first and then the liquids. Knead to a smooth dough for a few minutes before covering and leaving in a warm place for an hour or so.

Fry the onion and peppers for 10-15 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Empanadilla filling

Heat the oven to 200°C or gas mark 6. Add the garlic and rosemary to the onion and pepper mix and cook for 2 minutes, before adding the tomatoes, tomato puree, salt, sugar and chilli flakes, if using. Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the sardines 10 minutes before the end, breaking them up with a wooden spoon.

To make empanadillas, roll the pastry out until it’s quite thin and, using a small bowl or saucer about 10-12cm in diameter, cut out circles. Put a dessert spoon of filling to one side of the centre and, using some of the beaten egg, brush around the edges before folding the pastry over and sticking it, creating a semi-circle.

Empanadilla pastry

You can use a fork to make a pattern along the edges if you like (see the photo below). Brush the top with egg.

Uncooked empanadilla

Lightly sprinkle a baking tray with polenta (or line it with greaseproof paper) and place the empanadillas on it. Bake for 15-20 minutes until light brown.

Cooked sardine empanadillas

As this recipe uses rosemary from the garden, I’m also entering it for the February Cooking with Herbs challenge, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, using winter herbs. 

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

I’m also entering it for the Credit Card Munch, hosted by Elizabeth at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary, developed by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All as this recipe is good for packed lunches and uses cheap ingredients.

Credit-Crunch-Munch

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