Pasta with sardines



On the neighborhood corner, the one that leads directly to the main square, Concetta, Rosalia and Santina sit comfortably discussing which is the authentic version of pasta with sardines, a typical dish in Sicilian cuisine. The first uses only bucatini, the second says the sardines to be used are the small ones which are more tender and tasty, while the third does not like saffron and prefers puree or tomato paste. Fortunately the three ladies agree on the three cornerstones: sardines, pasta, and the inevitable wild fennel to prepare a fabulous pasta with sardines. As you may have guessed, there are many versions, as our Sicilian friends could tell you... but we hope we have fully grasped the authentic and true soul of this dish, made with sweet and sour notes, warm earthy colors and intoxicating scents of the sea, as a good fish dish should be. Pasta with sardines combines all these suggestions for the palate and in the end will please everyone, including Concetta, Rosalia and Santina! And if you love sardines, try a version that combines sardines and broccoli!


Bucatini pasta 0.7 lb (320 g)
Sardines 1 lb (500 g)
Wild fennel 0.4 lb (180 g)
Yellow onions ⅔ cup (80 g)
Raisins 3 ¼ tbsp (30 g)
Pine nuts 1 oz (25 g)
Chopped almonds 3 ¼ tbsp (30 g)
Salted anchovies 5
Extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup (50 g)
Water ⅓ cup (70 g) - for diluting
Saffron 1 packet - powdered
Fine salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
For the breading
Breadcrumbs 3 ¼ tbsp (30 g)
Extra virgin olive oil 2 ¼ tsp (10 g)

How to prepare Pasta with sardines

To prepare the pasta with sardines start by cleaning them if not already cleaned. Cleaning them is very simple, just detach the head and pull them open 1 by sliding your finger between the two parts, so you can gently detach the central bone 2. During this operation use a trickle of running water to eliminate the waste and clean the sardines at the same time. Keep the clean sardines on a plate. Soak the raisins for about ten minutes 3.

Slice an onion as finely as possible (you can chop it in a mixer for a few moments on pulse to avoid obtaining a mush) 4 and pour it into a pan with the olive oil and anchovies 5. Cook for about ten minutes over low heat and stir frequently, so that the base lightly fries without burning and the anchovies dissolve 6.

In the meantime, dilute the saffron in the water stirring with a fork 7 and then pour it into the pan 8 and add the clean sardines 9.

Then drain and rinse the raisins and pour them into the pan 10, add the finely ground almonds 11 and whole pine nuts 12, stir and continue cooking over a low flame for another 10 minutes.

Put a pot on the stove with plenty of water to boil and then add the fennel. If you buy the fennel uncleaned, you can buy 0.4 lb (180 g) of it so that once cleaned, having removed the leathery parts, you will have 0.27 lb (125 g) left to use for the recipe. Then rinse the tender part 13 and blanch for a couple of minutes 14. Drain well, without throwing away the water, letting the fennel cool for a few moments so you can handle it 15.

Squeeze it well and chop it with a knife, cutting one cut from the other an inch or so (a couple of centimeters) apart 16. Then put it in a pan 17, add salt and pepper, and stir to mix well 18

Boil the pasta in the same water that you cooked the fennel in 19. In the meantime, toast the breadcrumbs and pour into a pan with 2.2 tsp (10 g) of oil 20. Mix often to keep from burning and when they are golden brown, turn off the heat 21.

At this point, the pasta should be cooked al dente, drained and then sauteed briefly in the pan 22. Place and garnish with the breading 23: your pasta with sardines is ready, enjoy your meal!


We recommend eating the pasta with sardines immediately. It is not recommended to prepare the sauce in advance. If you would like to keep the pasta, store it in a well-covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to a day.


Purists know that fennel is one of the indispensable ingredients, but if you really can't find it you can replace it with a bunch of dill. If you want to try different pasta shapes, try the characteristic perciatelli or cannolicchi, typical of the area where this one is prepared. Instead of saffron, you can add color with tomato paste!