1 can of pilchards in tomato sauce
400g wholewheat penne
4tbs sunflower oil
100g olives, pitted
25g capers, drained
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2tbs basil, chopped
2tbs parsley, chopped
4tbs herbed croutons, roughly chopped
Pinch of chilli flakes
Pinch of pepper


1 Open the can of pilchards and drain the sauce from the tin. Set the sauce aside. Flake your pilchards in half lengthwise and remove the small bone from the middle of the fish. Place the cleaned and flaked pilchards into a bowl for later.

2 Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the box. While your pasta cooks, place the oil, olives, capers, garlic, chilli and tomato sauce from the pilchards into a frying pan on a low heat. Do not boil the sauce, you want to heat it gently so that you don’t reduce it too much.

3 Once your pasta is cooked drain it, but keep some of the cooking water aside. Place your penne into your sauce, along with the basil, parsley and half of the pilchards. Give the rest to your cat.

4 Toss to coat the pasta, but be careful not to break down the pilchards too much. If the sauce is too thick, thin it down with some of the leftover pasta water until you’re happy with the consistency. Plate up into bowls and sprinkle with the chopped croutons for some texture. Season with a pinch of pepper.

Per serving:

Compliments to the chef

Brad Ball is the “tour de force” behind Bistro Sixteen82, the innovative bistro-style cellar-door restaurant at Steenberg. Former head chef at Olympia Café and Deli in Kalk Bay, he boasts an impressive career spanning some 14 years, and has gained a sterling reputation as one of Cape Town’s foremost bistro dining specialists. He firmly assigns his success in life to his wife Chantel, whom he has two children with. He also hates tinned fish, but designed this recipe despite this.

Four nonna-approved pasta prep tips

Expand your noodle know-how with professional tips

1 Cake pan colander lift
Draining pasta can create waves – and not the good kind. The short walls of a shallow colander can cause the hot water to back up into the pasta before it has a chance to empty down the drain, which creates a risk of contamination if the sink isn’t perfectly clean. We steady the colander on an upside-down cake pan before draining. The pan elevates the colander – and the pasta – above the basin.

2 Towel dry
Even when drained well, the curved shape of macaroni and other similar-shaped pasta tends to hold in some cooking water. To thoroughly dry cooked macaroni and prevent the excess water from diluting your sauce or pasta salad dressing, we spread it in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels and allow it to dry for 3 minutes. Then we roll the pasta in the paper towels to blot any remaining moisture.

3 Reserving reminder
In that last flurry of activity before saucing pasta and getting dinner on the table, it’s easy to overlook small details – such as saving a bit of pasta cooking water when the recipe recommends it. To avoid this, set up the colander in the sink before cooking the pasta. Then place a measuring cup inside the colander. It’s sure to nudge your memory at the appropriate moment.

4 Thinking inside of the box
Some cooks don’t like to add salt to pasta water before it comes to a boil for fear of “pitting” (read: corroding) the pot. But if you don’t salt it at the beginning, you might forget and not salt it at all. To avoid unseasoned pasta, try this clever solution: add the salt to the opened box of pasta (we recommend 1tbs of table salt for half a kilogram of dry pasta), then simply dump the contents of the box once the water is boiling.