Pasta con le sarde

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This pasta con le sarde recipe – pasta with sardines – offers a true taste of Sicily. The unusual combination of sardines, pine nuts and raisins reflect the island's diverse past.

First published in 2018

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.




Pasta con le sarde

  • 400g of linguine, or other long pasta
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 fennel, finely diced (fennel tops reserved)
  • 5 anchovies, chopped
  • 50ml of white wine
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 40g of pine nuts
  • 40g of raisins
  • 4 sardines, prepared into 8 fillets
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • breadcrumbs, toasted


Cook the pasta in a pan of heavily salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes, or as per packet instructions
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
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
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
Drain the pasta then add to the pan and gently toss to coat the pasta
Season with a little lemon zest and a squeeze of the juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required
Divide between bowls and garnish with toasted breadcrumbs and the fennel tops

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