Pasta con le Sarde – Small Fish, Big Flavor, Long Shelf-Life

I’m no survivalist, but like any responsible chef I like to have a few cans of sardines stocked away, just in case. If times ever get tough, I could survive for hours, maybe days on them; but since things are going pretty well, I decided to dust off a can, and show you my version of Sicily’s famous, pasta con le sarde.

This will work well with many kinds of pasta, but I think bucatini is the best. It’s hollow, which sucks in the sauce, and flavors the noodles from the inside out. And, there’s a lot of flavor to suck. Speaking of which, be sure to get sardines that are packed in olive oil.

The flavor and texture is going to be better, plus you get sardine-infused olive oil that comes packed with the fish, which makes a great addition to our sauce.  By the way, if you can’t get fresh fennel, you can crush up a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and make a pretty decent version using that.

Like I said in the video, if you can get fresh sardines, they’re amazing in this. Fresh sardines are common around here, and they are such a delicious and under-appreciated fish. However, I honestly enjoy this version just as well, and seriously hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 appetizer sized portions:
1/4 cup extra virgin oil olive
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 anchovy filet
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
small pinch saffron
1/4 cup white wine
2 cans (4-oz each) sardines packed in olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
pinch red chili flakes
salt to taste
1/2 pound bucatini pasta, or thick spaghetti
1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, as needed
3-4 tablespoons roughly chopped fennel fronds, toss some in pasta at the end, and save some for the top
toasted breadcrumbs to garnish