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Pasta con le sarde

Pasta con le sarde

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Pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines) is arguably Sicily on a plate; full of fresh seafood, the island's native wild fennel and North African influences of raisins and pine nuts. Serve up with a crisp glass of white wine and you could almost be there.

Wild fennel grows abundantly in Sicily but is difficult to find in the United Kingdom. Soaked fennel seeds or fennel bulbs with their tops make a perfectly good substitute. Fresh sardines are preferable, but you can used the tinned variety, just chop them up finely and add at the same time as the anchovies. Long, thin pastas are the traditional pairing; think bucatini, spaghetti or linguine.

Ingredients

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Method

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1
Cook the pasta in a pan of heavily salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes, or as per packet instructions
2
Add the onion, fennel and anchovies to a frying pan set over a low-medium heat with the olive oil and fry until soft, but not coloured. The anchovies will melt into the sauce
3
Once soft, add the white wine with a pinch of saffron and turn up the heat. Reduce until the pan is nearly dry then stir in the pine nuts and raisins
4
Slice the sardine fillets into 3 or 4 pieces then add to the pan. Cook for 1 minute, being careful not to stir too much or the fish will fall apart
5
Drain the pasta then add to the pan and gently toss to coat the pasta
6
Season with a little lemon zest and a squeeze of the juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required
7
Divide between bowls and garnish with toasted breadcrumbs and the fennel tops
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