December 14, 2012

Lemony Sardine Pâté

My affection for sardines needs no introduction. And my love of pâté? That requires no explanation either. When I saw this recipe, I knew it was one after my heart.

The laziness in me is obviously a fan, too. Because if you keep a can of little fish in the cabinets, and have a lemon in your fruit bowl for French 75s, and leftover thyme from a fall-flavored shepherd’s pie, you have everything you need to whip up a quick and unexpectedly elegant little snack when friends came over. This was out on the coffee table with two fat wedges of cheese, and I dare say––with much surprise––it was the most popular nibble on offer.

And what better time to debut my little fishies table runner! For years I’ve admired the classic Sill (or Blue Herring) print fabric from Almedahls but never bought it. Do you ever do that? I put off buying something I truly love or really need, checking in on it online, or searching for it again and again on Ebay with no purchase ever taking place. If it’s not a matter of not having room in the budget, then why? Perhaps, a friend once suggested, it’s a way of punishing ourselves with a pinch of denial. Blasted Puritan roots! Well, lately I have been in the kind of full-on pleasure mode that would send John Adams reeling, buying beautiful versions of the things we need: a reading lamp for my nook, new napkins, a soft throw over the back of a chair. As my friend Amy recently wrote, you will never regret buying the best version of a practical thing. And I’d raise her: you will never regret buying a beautiful thing that you use every day. A cheerful sheet set, a little bud vase in a just-so shade of blue, a spoon that makes morning oatmeal a delight. Our purchases need not be expensive (though sometimes, like the bike of your dreams, they can be), but it brings vast amounts of pleasure and a prepared feeling of togetherness to know, yes, I have a set of eight matching napkins for dinner, a blanket for my friend’s shoulders when she sits in front of our drafty window, and the right light to curl up with the last pages of Little Women. In my two weeks of ownership, I’ve reaped $36 worth of pleasure from the spare graphic design of this runner draped across our table, and it’s the kind of thing we can take with us, wherever we call home.

Lemony Sardine Pate
from Food52
makes 1 cup

2 cans sardines in olive oil, about 4 oz each
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or sweet or smoked paprika
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Put all ingredient, even sardine oil, in a food processor. Blend until you get a somewhat smooth paste. Taste and add salt and black pepper, and more lemon juice, if needed.

Serve immediately or refrigerate. If refrigerated, let it come to room temperature before serving.

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  • Julie: I made this recipe for the first time a few weeks ago! I must say that while Peter and I loved it, I served it at a dinner with friends, and they (very politely) had to force themselves to sallow a bite of it. Definitely strong flavors!

    I had some leftovers that I threw in with pasta, lemon, and capers, and it got all melty and amazing. I would even make it again just to throw into pasta!2 years ago

  • Melissa @ Hilltop Hausfrau: Oh I wish I had a taste for sardines! I feel it would make me infinitely more cool…I try them a couple times a year, but it’s still a pass.

    Yes, I can relate to holding out on buying something I was coveting FOREVER: Anthropologie had this gorgeous tablecloth – blues, greens and browns – all different woodland animals. It was pricey so I kept waiting for it to go on sale. Finally, after almost a YEAR of looking at it online, I bought it! Never regretted it!

    Hope you are still loving Little Women!2 years ago

  • It’s true, you would definitely have to like strong flavors to dig this. Looking at the recipe again, though, I think I added quite a bit more than 2 teaspoons lemon juice–I think I misread that as 2 tablespoons! In any case, adding leftovers to pasta is an inspired move. With a bit of parsley on top? Yum.2 years ago

  • Julia (Color Me Green): great idea – my boyfriend loves both sardines and pate so i can see us making this. for me, i put off buying things i want because if i bought them all at once it would be pricey, and then it would encourage the habit of buying more things whenever i want them and would get expensive. so i wait, which allows me to spread out expenses reasonably over time and evaluate whether i really want or need it. AND when i finally buy something i’ve long wanted, i enjoy it all the more.2 years ago

  • Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas: I LOVE Pate…and I can’t believe I’ve never had a sardine one. I love that most of the ingredients here are pantry ingredients! Definitely trying this.2 years ago

  • Laureen: I love the idea of this pate stirred into pasta–or even an amped up version of the ol tuna noodle casserole… My husband is a sardines straight from the can kinda guy–I’m not quite there yet but you never know, this could be my gateway drug.2 years ago

  • Alyssa: A lovely post as always.
    I enjoy pushing of the purchase of some delights so that I can enjoy the anticipation and revel in them when I finally make the purchase.
    Have a wonderful (and safe) day!2 years ago

  • Anna: Sardines and pate – both my favourites! I take it as an idea for our New Year’s Eve party, it looks like we are making a fishy menu then :)2 years ago

  • SarahJ: yum! i cannot wait to try this recipe.

    i do the same, ogling things for ages, and it’s always worth it to buy something you love that gives you so much pleasure.

    adulteratedblog.com2 years ago

  • Ginger: Looks amazing… I’ll be making this soon!2 years ago

  • Lana: I have an extra fancy can of sardines in my cabinet waiting to do something marvelous. I think this might be their destiny. Pate sounds like such a posh NYE treat. What a way to start the New Year!
    The thing is, I’m scared of sardines. :)2 years ago

  • geek+nerd: My friend Nicki and I have recently decided to bring back a complimentary word, and I am going to employ it here. You DELIGHT me. This post, this recipe. All of it. Delightful.2 years ago

  • Lillian Davenport: Yes, it’s hard to unblur the lines between mindless-consumer-guilt and bringing real bits of joy to our day when it comes to shopping. I like these little guidelines you’ve laid out here. Also, I’m wild about sardines.. I’m truly looking forward to spreading this little dip on some toast very soon!2 years ago

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
- Proust