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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. 


Recipe

  • 4

Ingredients

  • 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
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

Method

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.