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Sardine Spaghetti

DAVID LOFTUS

Understanding food, where it comes from, how to cook it and how it affects our bodies is undeniably important. But in a world where many of our children are either overweight or undernourished, it seems that somehow we've failed to provide them with access to the right food they need to grow and thrive.

So, next Friday, May 20, I'm kicking off my Food Revolution campaign to shout about the importance of feeding our kids better, healthier, fresher food. I believe that real, positive change has to happen at every level of the food chain, including providing every child with a good food education, regulating junkfood marketing that directly targets children, and reformulating unhealthy products. My Food Revolution is a year-round campaign, encouraging and inspiring people to come together and make as much noise as possible about the issues that really matter, lobbying governments to enforce the changes that will give the next generation a healthier, happier future.

Anyone can sign up and join in to support the campaign, and it really can be as simple as celebrating real food, cooking from scratch and enjoying it with your loved ones. This week, I've given you a simple, nutritious recipe that can be cooked on a budget. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and one of the most economical fish in the market, literally a 10th of the price of something like shrimp, which just goes to show that good food doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag. If you want to know more about my Food Revolution and how you can get involved, check out the website: www.jamiesfoodrevolution.org.

Servings: Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large ripe tomatoes

1 106-gram (3.75-ounce) tin of sardine fillets in olive oil

6 cups (200 grams or 7 ounces) spinach

300 grams (11 ounces) dried whole-wheat spaghetti

1 bulb of fennel

2 lemons

Salt and pepper

¼ cup (60 mL) finely grated ricotta salata

Pinch dried red chili flakes

Method

Ricotta salata is a firm white cheese made from ricotta that has been pressed, salted and aged. You can buy it at good Italian delis or online.

Halve and seed the tomatoes, then place in a blender. Add the entire contents of the sardine can and blitz until super smooth, adding a splash of water to loosen if needed.

Roughly chop the spinach, then place in a large colander in the sink.

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, according to the packet instructions. Pick and reserve any leafy fennel tops, then very finely slice the stalks and bulb, ideally on a mandolin (use the guard). Add the sliced fennel to the spaghetti pan to blanch for the final 2 minutes of the cooking time.

Reserving a cupful of cooking water, drain the spaghetti and fennel over the spinach in the colander, so the spinach starts to wilt. Return the pasta and all the veg to the pan and toss with the sardine sauce.

Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed.

Season to perfection with salt and pepper, add the grated ricotta salata and a little lemon zest, then sprinkle with any reserved fennel tops and the chili flakes. Serve right away with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

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