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Pasta con le Sarde: Sicily on a plate

A strikingly simple plate of spaghetti, fennel, onions, and sardines garnished with golden raisins and pine nuts.

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Pasta con le Sarde (Long pasta with sardines)
Credit should be given to Ferdinando’s Focacceria for inspiring us to cook this dish.
Serves 4

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1 lb. (1/2 kilo) dried long pasta (spaghetti, bucatini, perciatelli)
1 fennel bulb, tops removed and reserved, sliced wafer thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly
3-4 cloves garlic, finely sliced.
4-6 medium sardines (1 lb. / 1/2 kilo), cleaned and boned
Handful golden raisins (sultanas)
Handful pine nuts (pignoli)
1 small glass dry white wine or cooking wine
2 handfuls day-old bread crumbs
1 handful roughly chopped almonds
3 salted anchovies
1 pinch saffron
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Good quality olive oil
Chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil

In a sauté pan, bring 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat

Saute onions, garlic and fennel (not including reserved tops) until softened.

Add sardines and anchovies, stir to break up anchovies.

Turn heat to high and after 30 seconds add white wine or cooking wine and saffron.

Stir again, reduce heat to low after 1 minute. Cover for 5 minutes and allow to steam.

Add pasta to large pot of salted water.

Remove of sauté pan lid, stir sardines so fish starts to flake and fall apart into the sauce.

Add golden raisins and pine nuts. Taste for seasoning, correct accordingly.

When pasta is done – around 7 minutes – scoop a ladle of pasta water into sardine sauce before draining pasta and adding it to sauté pan.

Stir pasta well to coat with sauce. Allow to cook for another minute

Kill heat, and sprinkle in breadcrumbs, chopped almonds, fennel tops and chopped parsley (optional).

Stir well and serve.

Jonny and Amy Seponara-Sills blog at We Are Never Full.

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