Pasta con le Sarde
A simple, but flavorful dish of pasta with sardines, fennel, garlic, pine nuts, and currants, pasta con le sarde is the national dish of Sicily.
- Serves: 2 persons
- ¼cup golden currants (or raisins)
- ¼cup dry white wine
- ¼cup fresh orange juice
- Pinch saffron threads , optional
- 2teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 8ounces spaghetti (or bucatini)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- ¼cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2(125-gram) cans oil-packed sardines, drained
- 1medium fennel bulb, halved, trimmed, and thinly sliced; fronds reserved
- ½medium onion, finely chopped
- 3small cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¼cup pine nuts
- Freshly ground black pepper
Step 1Gather the ingredients.
Step 2Add currants, wine, and orange juice to a small bowl. If using saffron, add that as well. Set aside to soak.
Step 3Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel seed and toast until slightly darkened and fragrant. Remove seeds to a small bowl. If you have a mortar and pestle, you can lightly crush them. If not, leave them whole. Set aside.
Step 4Set a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add salt followed by pasta . Cook until almost al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water. Coat pasta with a small amount of oil to prevent it from sticking together as it cools.
Step 5Heat skillet again over medium heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the sardines. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes, then add fennel (reserving fronds), onion, and garlic. Cook until vegetables have slightly softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 6Add raisins with soaking liquid, toasted fennel seeds, and pine nuts. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring periodically, until liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. Remove from heat.
Step 7Add cooked pasta to skillet with sardine mixture. Toss well. If sauce seems a little dry, add a small amount of the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 8Top with fennel fronds and serve immediately.