Italian Pasta Recipes Italian Seafood

PASTA CON LE SARDE (Pasta with Sardines)

Pasta con sarde is a traditional Sicilian dish that is made all over the island, using the same ingredients but differing in its preparation.

It is most often cooked from February to the end of May because wild fennel is tender and abundant during this period and the sardines are fished in large quantities.

In Palermo, this dish is called Pasta di San Giuseppe and it is a tradition to cook it on March 19 when Saint Joseph is celebrated.

Somehow the ancient custom to prepare special food as an offering to the gods has been passed on to present time with a variation where instead of the pagan priest receiving the food, we eat and enjoy the meal with our family and friends.

 

Servings:4

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 1 lb wild fennel
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely diced
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 ½ lb fresh sardines
  • 5 salted anchovies fillets rinsed
  • Tip of a teaspoon of saffron, diluted in 3 tablespoons of water
  • ½ cup currants or raisins, soaked in hot water
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste


For the Pasta

  • 1 bucatini pasta
  • Tip of a teaspoon of saffron, diluted in 3 tablespoons of water

 

METHOD

  • 1. THE FENNEL
    Clean fennel by removing and discarding the roots and any discolored fronds. Rinse a few times and set aside. Bring a large pot with 5 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fennel and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until fennels are very tender. Scoop out the boiled fennel with a slatted spoon and when cooled, chop very fine. Save the fennel water for cooking the pasta.
  • 2. THE ONIONS
    Over a medium flame, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 3 quart saucepan. Add diced onions and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes.
  • 3. THE BREADCRUMBS
    In a 10 inch skillet over a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons sautéed onions and breadcrumbs. Keep stirring until crumbs are light brown. Place in a container and set aside. In some parts of Sicily, onions are substituted with sugar.
  • 4. The Sardines
    Remove the head and place the sardines in a basin with cold water. Using your finger or a teaspoon, remove scales and discard interior. Open each sardine and insert your finger under the bone to remove it. Set aside and when finished rinse fish and place in a colander. Pat dry with paper towels. In a 10 inch skillet over a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add 2 tablespoons sautéed onions and the sardines. Sautee the fish briefly, add ½ cup of the reserved water from the fennel, cook for an additional 3 minutes, and then set aside.
  • 5. THE SAUCE
    Over a medium flame, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 4 quart saucepan. Add remaining onions and the salted anchovies and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until anchovies are almost melted, about 2 minutes. Add chopped fennel, increase heat to high and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the diluted saffron, currant, pine nuts, ½ of the sautéed fresh sardines and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the flame and simmer for about 25 minutes.
  • 6. THE PASTA
    Cook pasta according to package directions, reducing recommended cooking time by 2 minutes. Drain pasta well and return to pot. Mix in remaining saffron. Toss in ½ the sauce and 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Mix for 2 minutes on low heat or until pasta and sauce are well combined.
  • 7. SERVING SUGGESTIONS
    Separate into individual portions of pasta, add a spoonful of sauce, some of the sardines and onions, and sprinkle each plate with breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

 NOTE:

If wild fennel is not available, use the green foliage of bulb fennel.

 

 

 

 

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