Simple Pasta And Pilchard Dish

Who says pasta is only for Italians and fish is for Capetonians?

I recently visited my family in the Eastern Cape early this month.  When I’m at home I am the designated cook as you can imagine.  As the cook I went through the cupboards to see whats there and whats not.  Ok first let me let you in on a little secret ….actually it’s not a secret I’ve mentioned it before… mom buys everything in bulk you’d swear she owns a spaza shop.  Big bags of rice, flour, washing powder etc.  In the cupboards, amongst other bulk  materials I found say about 6 to 8 cans of pilchards in tomato sauce….I think my mom just loves them but she’s not aware of that.  Perhaps living away from the sea and not getting fresh fish makes the canned version a viable alternative.  As someone coming from Cape Town I was asked why I never bring fresh fish.  Picture this, travelling almost a thousand kilometres with fresh fish. Apparently, my late uncle once took a 15 kilo fish to homelands travelling by train.  So now I’m expected to follow that example.  Eish! The things we do for family…….

I prepared a pasta and pilchard dish…

I have such fond memories of pasta.  My first memory of pasta…..I remember my mom used to buy canned spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce.  The spaghetti in those cans was loooong….my sisters and I used to enjoy sucking it then end up with tomato sauce all over our faces.  We loved it!

So I’m dedicating this post to my family for their love of canned pilchards….

Simple Pasta & Pilchard Recipe

Serves: 4

2 cups puccini pasta, cooked according to directions in the pack

1 can pilchards in tomato sauce

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 green chillies, chopped

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped

Pinch of salt, to taste

Pinch of sugar, to taste


  1. Heat a saucepan then add olive oil.
  2.  Sauté the onion, green peppers, garlic, and chillies.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and parsley. Continue stirring.
  4. Add the pilchards.
  5. Combine the cooked pasta with the pilchard and mix.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve.


Thuli’s Tip: 

 Leave out the chillies if you have a low tolerance for spicy food.

About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Comments ( 5 )

  • phumla

    mhuuuuu!!! it really looks Appetising…in December we want buffet..u must cook all yo lovely dishes Nhee!

  • Siya Dube

    Hey, I also love pilchards. They remind me of my childhood memories. So tonight I’m trying this recipe.

  • Beyonka

    I just made this. I’m so impressed with the outcome!

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