They say that this classic Sicilian recipe was born by chance during the Muslim domination in Sicily. Anyway Pasta with sardines is probably one of the dishes that best represent Sicilian cuisine.
Make sure you have enough time, if you are not an expert cleaning the sardines will be a long work! Or ask to have the fishes cleaned where you buy them!
Ingredients for 4 people
320 grams /9.5 ounces bucatini o large maccheroni
400 grams/ 1 lb fresh sardines
25 grams / 1 ounce raisin (make it soft soaking in water for 20 minutes)
25 grams / 1 ounce pine nuts
2 tinned/salted anchovies (carefully deboned)
Approx 300 grs fresh fennel fronds
Extra virgin olive oil (evo)
2 pinches of saffron
50 grams / 2 ounces bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1) Soak the raisins in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes.
2) Wash and boil the wild fennel in a pot of salted water for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the water, then finely cut the vegetables very well and cut them into small pieces.
3) In the meanwhile clean and debone the anchovies and the fresh sardines.
Start by cutting with your finger on the "neck" and gently pull. the guts will come out as well
Now take the bone away by pulling it and remove the tail.
Check if any bone was left and take it away.
4) Place a larger pan over medium heat. Add the oil and, as soon as it is hot, add the finely chopped onion. Once the onion is golden, add the anchovies. Break them apart using a spoon let them dissolve and add the fresh sardines, the raisins and the pine nuts. Let all cook and break the fishes into pieces by stirring.
5) Cook for about 10 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Add the wild fennel. Stir gently and lower the heat.
6) Dissolve a pinch of saffron in a in a couple of spoons of the boiling water and add it to the sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
Re-heat the water used to cook the wild fennel leaves until it boils, and pour the pasta in it. Add some more water if needed. When ready (follow the instructions on the packaging) drain the pasta in a colander and add it to the sauce, stirring well together with the bread crumbs.
TIPYou can also prepare this recipe in advance and warm it up later on, in this case, grease a baking pan with butter, put in the pasta and the sauce, spread with the bread crumbs and bake in a 425°F oven for 10 minutes.