Pasta with Fresh Sardine Sauce

Pasta with Fresh Sardine Sauce -- Pasta con Sarde
This is a classic Sicilian dish.
  • 1 lb fresh sardines
  • 6 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb long hollow pasta such as perciatelli, ziti or bucatini

Clean the sardines. Open each one flat out and remove the back bone and head. Wash well and dry Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Coarsely chop the top fronds of fennel and reserve. Pull off a few outer leaves and wash. Fill a large pan with enough water to cook the pasta. Add the fennel leaves and bring to a boil.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion lightly until soft. Remove to a side dish. Add the sardines, a few at a time and cook over moderate heat until golden on both sides, turning them once carefully. When all the sardines have been cooked, gently return them to the pan. Add the onion, pine nuts and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper.

Take about 4 tbsp of boiling water from the pasta and add it to the sauce. Add salt to the boiling water and drop in the pasta. Cook until al dente, drain, and remove the fennel leaves. Dress the pasta with the sauce. Arrange several sardines on each serving. Sprinkle with the reserved chopped fennel tops before serving.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes
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