Sara Levine's Duck Rillettes
Regina Schrambling's Edamame and Rice Salad with Fines Herbes Vinaigrette

Gusto's Pasta con le Sarde


Summer is almost here, beach season is almost upon us. Have you tried on last year's bikini yet? Figured out what diet to use to whittle down those last few pounds of winter insulation before you slip into something a little more revealing?

Well, this is your last chance to change your life. How about the Total & Utter Disgust 'n' Despair Diet TM? It's remarkably effective. Why, all you have to do is read a couple of books, starting with Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore's Dilemma and ending with Bottomfeeder, and maybe watch a documentary or two, like King Corn or Super Size Me - yes, from the comfort of your very own couch! no movement required - and you'll lose your appetite, ensuring slimmer thighs and a chiseled face, guaranteed.

Protein will lose all its allure - poultry, beef, pork, even fish (shrimp!) will be entirely nauseating! Turn your nose up at rice - millions of people need it more than you do - and eye vegetables, both conventional and organic, with suspicion: the twin dangers of E. coli and murky ethics lurk everywhere, didn't you know? You'll find yourself grateful to have nothing but HFCS-free cereal with antiobiotic-free milk for dinner, and that can do wonders for the flabby, late-spring body.

The Total & Utter Disgust 'n' Despair Diet TM! There's simply nothing else like it.

(Side effects may include depression, rage, and hopelessness. But everyone knows you hate to eat when you're feeling like the world is coming to an end - so look on the bright side: You'll drop a dress size in less than a week!)


Yes, folks, I seem to have lost my appetite. I'm 182 pages into Taras Grescoe's Bottomfeeder (which is a must-read, especially for people who like to eat fish) and it feels like the straw that broke the camel's back. About the only thing I feel good about eating now from the piscine world are a dozen oysters and a can of sardines. You might end up feeling that way, too. So in anticipation of that, here's a recipe for pasta with canned sardines that's quite delicious.

(Don't even try serving it to people who are avowed anchovy haters - the hate seems to extend to all small canned fish. Believe me, I tried. And failed. Miserably.)

Pasta con le Sarde
Serves 4

½ cup currants
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
½ cup plus 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fennel, bulb finely chopped, fronds chopped and reserved
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 pound canned sardines
1 pound bucatini pasta
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup capers, rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Combine the currants, red-pepper flakes and wine in a bowl; set aside. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and set aside.

2. In a heavy skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil over medium-low heat. When hot, add the onion, garlic, fennel bulb and fennel seeds. Season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Add the wine mixture and the sardines, breaking them into pieces with a fork. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Add enough salt to the boiling water so that it tastes salty. Boil the bucatini until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes; strain. Return the pasta to the pasta pot and set over low heat. Fold in the fennel-sardine mixture. Toss in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add 3/4 of the fennel fronds, the pine nuts, the capers and a quarter of the bread crumbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Divide pasta among plates and sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs and fennel fronds over each. Serve immediately.