Mackerel puttanesca linguini

Mackerel puttanesca linguini

If you are looking for a quick pasta packed with flavors look no further. This dish is rich, spicy, salty and slightly sweet. All of that in one bowlful.

I came up with this recipe on a lazy Monday night after spending a long weekend in the country. The fridge was empty and having indulged in rich pub food for one to many nights I was craving a homemade meal. The canned fish from my fish cakes recipe testing sessions were still sitting on my shelf and it inspired me to make a nice puttanesca pasta, with a twist.

With a basil plant sunbathing on my window sill, some kalamata olives chilling in the fridge and the tinned mackerel patiently waiting in the cupboard, I had all I needed and it was a quick recipe to put together. It has now become one of my default meal when out of ingredients and I’m excited to share it with you.

Now now, I know what you are all thinking: “Canned fish? really”. As you might have read on the fish cakes post I had my doubts too and I struggled with the tinned salmon, which I admitted was quite revolting. But I’ve always loved tinned tuna and the mackerel’s flesh is really close to it in texture. If skinned and boned it couldn’t be easier to use and it creates a milder variation to the original puttanesca recipe made with anchovies.

I love recipes that uses things I always have in the kitchen. Having a few flavorful and versatile ingredients always on hand can brighten up many dishes. I have a few other favorites apart from the ingredients used here. Lemon high on my list and I always make sure I have some around.

Which are the ingredients you always have at home? Is there one you couldn’t live without? What is your quick go recipe using these?

Phew… styling pasta is hard! Getting those long strings to fall naturally on a plate needs a delicate hand and I definitely need to practice! I hope this plateful will still tempt you to try the recipe.

Mackerel puttanesca linguini
Serves 2
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Total Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 tbsp Olive oil
  2. 2 Garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
  3. 1 can Mackerel in brine
  4. 1 can Chopped tomatoes
  5. a splash Red wine, about 5 ice cubes (Optional- I’m using frozen wine, see how here)
  6. 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  7. 6-8 Basil leaves, finely chopped
  8. 1/4 tsp Chili flakes
  9. 2 portion Linguini
  1. Put a pan of salted water on high heat and bring to the boil.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and fry the chopped garlic for a minute until it start to colour.
  3. Add the drained mackerel and fry with the garlic for another minute while breaking it into small pieces.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, half a can of water and the wine and stir, scrapping the bottom to make sure nothing is sticking.
  5. Add the basil, olives, chili flakes and a good pinch of salt and cook for 15 minutes until thick and darker in colour.
  6. Cook the pasta according to the package’s instruction. Before draining keep a cup of the cooking water aside.
  7. Before serving check the seasoning, adding more salt or chili flakes if needed and loosen the sauce with a bit of the cooking water.
  1. You can easily replace the mackerel with tuna if the fishy taste scares you, although there is nothing to be afraid of.
  2. Using the cooking water to loosen the sauce instead of plain water is better for many reason. First, the starch in the water helps keep the sauce rich and thick and stick to the pasta. Secondly, the water has already been salted and won’t alter the seasoning.
Leftovers ideas
  1. I think the best way to enjoy leftover pasta is to make a gratin. Simply put the already dressed pasta in a oven-proof dish. You can always add some extra vegetables, meat or cream laying in your fridge at this stage, and top with any grated cheese you have. Bake in a 200C/400F oven until warm through and the cheese is bubbly and golden.
Singly Scrumptious

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  1. Marie-Eve

    Gratin! Great idea! I have never though of that! BTW, I was watching a cooking show from Donna Hay, and she says to hold pasta with thongs on top of a plate and rotate the plate as you slowly drop the pasta… I never seem to make look as good as her, but like you said, practice!! But yours looks great already!

    • Andree-Anne

      Ah! I always try to turn my hands and not the plate! That would make things much easier, I’ll definitely give that a try. Thanks for the tip :)

  2. Nonsense. You did a good job plating. I know how hard pasta can be to photograph. My personal enemy are green leaf salads… I can’t make them look good once they are dressed.

    • Andree-Anne

      I’m trying my best :). What we were taught during my food styling classes to not dress the salads but simply drizzle a bit on top right before taking the shot, that ways the leaves stay fresher and lighter. Then dress it fully when you are ready to eat it. Hope that helps you next time :)

  3. I never questioned the canned fish. But wine cubes?

  4. This recipe sounds delicious! I’m going to make this when I get home :)

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