Pilchard pasta

Pilchard pasta

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  • 4-6
  • Easy
  • 45 minutes

"This is one of the first pasta dishes my mom taught us kids how to make. Although it was inspired by a need to be thrifty, this simple meal ended up being one of my favourites. Just one can of pilchards feeds the entire family, which makes this tasty dish super pocket-friendly." – Neo Nontso


  • 250 g pasta of your choice (I’ve used shells)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, chopped (optional)
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried sweet basil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cubes chicken stock
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can pilchards in tomato sauce
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • ½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • A pinch smoked paprika
  • oil for frying

Cooking Instructions

1. Boil the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

2. Heat a little oil in a large pan on medium heat.

3. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic, chilli and dried herbs, and sauté until the herbs become fragrant.

4. Add the diced tomatoes, stock cubes and tomato paste, then pour in the water and bring to a simmer.
Cover and let the sauce cook for 15-20 minutes.

5. Place the pilchards on a flat plate and, using a knife and fork, gently cut each fish in half to expose the bones. Remove and discard the bones.

6. Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the pan, then the pilchards. Stir gently to coat them in the sauce while breaking them into smaller pieces.

7. Add a splash of water and cook the sauce for 10 more minutes.

8. Stir in the cooked pasta.

9. Heat the oven to 180°C.

10. Transfer the pasta mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish and top with the grated cheese and smoked paprika.

11. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve hot.

Cook's note: Leftovers can last for up to 5 days in the fridge – perfect for a quick weekday meal. Feel free to double the recipe quantities to make more for another day.

Extracted with permission from @Dinewithneo – My Insta Feast, by Neo Nontso (Quivertree). Recipes Neo Nontso, photographs Craig Fraser, photographic direction, food and prop styling Bianca Strydom, stylist’s assistants Ellen Schwerdtfeger, editing Gillian Warren Brown (words), Lynn Cloete (recipes).

Find more pasta recipes here.

Neo Nontso Recipe by: Neo Nontso
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