Pasta Con Le Sarde
This dish epitomises Sicily and all its jumbled, eclectic culinary influences. The sweet sultanas, nuts and saffron are pure Moorish, the fresh fish is 100% salty Mediterranean and the pasta is of course Italianissimo.
- Breadcrumbs – 100g/3.5oz
- Capers, 50g/1.8oz, chopped
- Anchovy fillets, 50g/1.8oz, chopped
- Onion – 1 medium, chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil – 120ml/4.2fl oz
- White wine – 50ml/2fl oz
- Sardine fillets – 8
- Sultanas – 30g/1.1oz
- Pine nuts – 30g/1.1oz
- Saffron – a good pinch, about 20 threads
- Fennel seeds – 1tsp covered in water and soaked for 2 hours
- Spaghetti – 300g/11oz
- Step 1
- Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry pan over a medium heat, until they are quite a dark golden brown. Take care not to burn them.
- Step 2
- Heat half the extra-virgin olive oil in a pan and add the onion. Sauté until softened but not coloured, then add the wine and bubble it up to let it evaporate.
- Step 3
- Mix the chopped capers and anchovies into a paste and then add them with just enough water to make a sauce, and bring everything back to the boil.
- Step 4
- Add the sardine fillets, sultanas, pine nuts, saffron and soaked fennel seeds. Taste and season with salt and black pepper if necessary, stir and cook for 10 minutes.
- Step 5
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add salt, then put in the pasta and cook for about a minute less than the time given on the packet, so that it is al dente.
- Step 6
- Drain, reserving some cooking water. Toss the pasta with the sardine sauce, adding a little of the pasta cooking water if necessary to loosen the sauce, and sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs.