Spawned less from frugality and more from an evening when we had forgotten to get anything out of the freezer to cook, winter was starting to make it's presence felt by way of squally rain and a cold wind, and we were both absolutely STARVING. A hasty rustle through the the cupboards and fridge for what we had in lead to this lovely warming, filling dish.
Finely slice an onion and saute off in a pan in oil with a little knob of butter added. A pinch of salt over the onions at the start helps with the cooking and the combination of that and the butter gives the onion a lovely golden colour too. Add a pinch of chilli flakes - mine were some gorgeous smoked ones bought recently at the Ludlow Food Festival. If you don't have flakes then powder is fine, or even tabasco - just bear in mind you want a gentle warmth rather than a fierce heat, though. Slice a fresh pepper - any colour will do, or you could use a handful of sliced frozen ones. (A really useful ingredient to keep in the freezer at around £1 a bag). Once everything is soft and the onions are turning golden tip in either a carton of passata or a tin of chopped tomatoes, and stir well. Add a half-teaspoon of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomato.
Once everything is simmering together gently it's time to get a large pan of well salted water on the go - bring to a good boil and tip in your pasta or spaghetti - pop a lid on but for goodness sake don't forget about it - overcooked pasta is vile! Open a tin of sardines - if in sauce throw the lot into the pan with the tomato mixture, if in oil hoike the sardines out and chuck those in and reserve the oil. Add a teaspoon of smoked paprika and, if you want to bulk the dish out a bit, a can of well drained butter beans and stir *VERY* gently - you want to ensure everything heats through but not break the sardines up too much.
Once your pasta is cooked drain it roughly and if you have reserved oil from the sardines throw it back into the pan with the oil and toss together. My final touch for the sauce was to check the seasoning and then add some coriander leaf - I buy fresh coriander by the bunch and pop it into the freezer so I can just shake out a little at a time. Serve the sauce spooned over the pasta.
Rough costings for this:
Spaghetti (8p) Pepper (15p if using frozen) Onion (7p) Herbs & Spices (5p max) Sardines (40p) Tomatoes (33p) Butter Beans (33p) = Total cost £1.41 or £1.08 if omitting the beans - with them however this made two REALLY generous portions - to be honest it would have fed three easily just with the addition of a little more pasta.
This one will definitely be getting added into the repertoire regularly - tasty, cheap and most importantly sometimes QUICK.