PASTA WITH SARDINES (PASTA CON LE SARDE)

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Called pasta che sardi or pasta chi sardi (depending on where you are in the island) in local dialect, the period to prepare this dish is between March and September when the fresh sardines are more available in the fish markets and when the wild fennel are out.

 

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 300 g. long pasta (bucatini, mezza zitti, perciatelli or spaghetti)
  • 200 g. wild fennel
  • 350 g. fresh sardines, cleaned (heads taken away), descaled & opened flat
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 5 – 6 salted anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in water, drained & patted dry
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 40 g. toasted breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar
  • extra virgin olive oil

 Directions:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a cooking pot and add salt & fennel.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then drain, reserving the water to cook the pasta.
  2. Squeeze the fennel to remove excess moisture & pat dry with kitchen paper towels.  Chop coarsely.  Set aside.
  3. Saute’ the onion in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.   Add the anchovies, crushing them with a fork so that they dissolve in the oil.
  4. Add the sardines, raisins, pine nuts and toasted almonds.  Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Cook over a moderate heat for 10 minutes before adding the fennel & saffron.  Stir gently to avoid breaking up the fish (Mine did, however careful I was!).
  6. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for another 10 minutes.   If it is becoming too dry, ladle some hot fennel-flavored water that you are keeping for cooking the pasta.
  7. Bring the fennel-flavored water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook following the cooking time suggested in the package reducing it by a minute to make it al dente.
  8. Mix the pasta with the sauce.   Mix toasted breadcrumbs & sugar together then sprinkle on the pasta.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

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