Pasta con le sarde

Bucatini with sardines

The history

The pasta with sardines is a sublime combination of flavours and colours of the land and the sea, of Mediterranean aromas and scents that bend in a unique combination of flavours: sardines, wild fennel, saffron, Corinth raisins and pine nuts. The contrast between sweet and spicy, typical of all Sicilian cuisine, makes it a truly unique dish.
Legend says that this dish was created by the cook of the Arab general Eufemio, who having landing in Sicily in precarious conditions, had to settle for what nature offered him to feed his troop.
It seems that originally it wasn’t as we know it today, but it was the result of additions and improvements over the centuries. The addition of saffron, Corinth raisins and pine nuts is typical of the Arab cuisine. The pine nuts, on the other hands, were widespread in Sicilian cuisine for their antiseptic qualities. Since the populace couldn’t certainly afford fresh fish, the addition of pine nuts, as well as vinegar in other dishes, prevented some food poisoning.
The pasta with sardines can’t miss on the San Joseph’s day.
The pasta with sardines is a sublime combination of flavours and colours of the land and the sea, of Mediterranean aromas and scents that bend in a unique combination of flavours: sardines, wild fennel, saffron, Corinth raisins and pine nuts. The contrast between sweet and spicy, typical of all Sicilian cuisine, makes it a truly unique dish.
Legend says that this dish was created by the cook of the Arab general Eufemio, who having landing in Sicily in precarious conditions, had to settle for what nature offered him to feed his troop.
It seems that originally it wasn’t as we know it today, but it was the result of additions and improvements over the centuries. The addition of saffron, Corinth raisins and pine nuts is typical of the Arab cuisine. The pine nuts, on the other hands, were widespread in Sicilian cuisine for their antiseptic qualities. Since the populace couldn’t certainly afford fresh fish, the addition of pine nuts, as well as vinegar in other dishes, prevented some food poisoning.
The pasta with sardines can’t miss on the San Joseph’s day.

The recipe

fennel
wild fennel

Ingredients for serves 4:
600 g bucatini pasta
1 kg wild fennels (tender stems no bulbs)
500 g fresh sardines
1 golden onion
6 anchovies
50 g pine nuts
50 g Corinth raisins (is a special raisin not too sweet)
1 teaspoons tomato “estratto” (you can use tomato paste)
200 g crispy breadcrumbs
1 pinch of saffron or some pistils
6 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Method:

sardines
sardines

Clean and wash the fennels.
Clean and wash the sardines discarding the head and the fishbone and open them like a book, keeping the fillets together joined by the back.
Remove the bone from the anchovies.
Put the raisins in a cup of hot water to rehydrate.
Boil the fennel in a large pan of boiling salted water.
In a large and deep pan fry the onion finely chopped, the anchovies, pine nuts and raisins.

sauce
sauce

Then add the sardines and cook stirring gently so as not to break the fillets too much.
Add the tomato paste and a few spoonfuls of fennel cooking water to melt it.
Lift the fennels from the pan and keep the pan of water on the hob.
Chop the fennels and add them to the sauce, mix and let them flavor.
Only when the cooking is complete add the saffron.
Meanwhile boil the bucatini in the fennels water according the packet instructions, drain them al dente and mix them with the sauce.
Let the pasta flavour well by leaving them on the fire for a few minutes, then serve them on a with a bowl of crispy breadcrumbs.

TIPS: How to make the Crispy breadcrumbs

Place a large frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the breadcrumbs and fry for a few minutes, until crisp, stirring regularly.
Be very careful because the breadcrumbs burns quickly.

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