Authentic Pasta con le Sarde Recipe

Pasta con le sarde is a typical Sicilian dish. The name translates to mean ‘pasta with sardines’ and the sardines along with fennel are the main 2 ingredients in there, those which give it the characteristic taste. Saffron, currants or raisins, pine nuts, and toasted almonds or capers also enrich the dish, offering a unique and special flavor in the finished meal.

There are different pasta con le sarde recipes, some of which include tomato pulp and others which do not. Some are finished off in the oven for a few minutes so the pasta can finish cooking in there.

When to Make a Pasta con le Sarde Recipe

Make this pasta con le sarde whenever you want, but I would recommend March to September as the ideal window just because that’s the best time to get harvested wild fennel and fresh sardines at the market. Prepare the dish then add some toasted breadcrumbs to finish it off. You might want to use macaroni rather than bucatini or spaghetti, and in fact that would be more traditional in Sicily.

Our pasta con le sarde recipe uses bucatini pasta but you can swap some or all of the pasta for vegetti or voodles, otherwise known as julienne-cut vegetable strips. These have a shorter cooking time and will add more color to the dish while keeping the carb and calorie count down. The choice is yours, but consider making it an authentic pasta con le sarde first, so you can taste it how it is made in Sicily, Italy, then experiment the next time you make it perhaps.

History of the Pasta con le Sarde Recipe

pasta-sardeSicilian food is well worth discovering because it offers a unique flavor. Perhaps you are more familiar with Sicilian pizza when it comes to Sicilian cuisine, or even involtini of thinly pounded swordfish with a caper and semolina breadcrumb filling, or pasta with artichokes with anchovies and pasta sauce. This cuisine offers plenty of highly flavored delicacies.

The delicious sardine and wild fennel dish known as a pasta con le sarde recipe is a great recipe to sum up this cuisine, offering a harmonious blend of aromatic ingredients and textures.

The salty flavor of the sardines is typically Mediterranean, while the slight bitterness of the fennel is a good contrast. Currants or raisins add sweetness while nuts add crunch to this pasta con le sarde recipe, then you have the fragrant saffron in there too, so all in all this is a dish of contrasts.

The Arab General Eufemio conquered Sicily and wanted to feed his troops with something tasty and satisfying, which is how pasta le sarde was created. The saffron and pine nuts were the Arab touch that combined with local Italian ingredients to balance it all out. The sauce does not cling to the pasta like other sauces, which is why some people put the dish in the oven for a few minutes at the end, to finish cooking the pasta and also to encourage the sauce to stick better.

Keep Your Pasta con le Sarde Recipe Traditional for the Best Results

pasta-sarde-recipeStick to the original pasta con le sarde recipe and you will be pleased you did. Although some people like to swap the currants for bolder-tasting raisins or add extra nuts, or even dump half a jar of tomato sauce in there, I implore you to make it the original way, at least the first time, just so you can appreciate the incredible balance.

Pasta con le sarde is not topped with cheese, which is the norm with pasta and fish recipes, but crushed almonds and/or toasted breadcrumbs on top work beautifully. Fresh whole sardines are used as a topping in some variations of the dish.

Pasta con le Sarde is Not Such a Well Known Recipe

So if this dish is so good how come it’s not more popular outside of Italy? The fact of the matter is not all the ingredients are widely available. Can you get wild fennel at your local market, or fresh sardines? Not everyone can, at least not during the cooler months of the year.

Where to Get the Fennel and Sardines

You can pick your own wild fennel in southern California all year except the winter, and you can also pick it up from some New York greengrocers. Even if you can’t though, try regular fennel and perhaps add some fennel seeds and dill, and you can still make a very good pasta con le sarde recipe.

If you can’t get fresh sardines, well-drained canned ones which have been packed in oil are probably a better bet than thawed ones which have lots a lot of their flavor and texture. There is another dish though called pasta con le sarde a mare which is sardine-free. The name of the dish translates to ‘pasta with sardines at sea’.

Authentic Pasta con le Sarde Recipe
Fresh sardines, wild fennel and pasta pair with currants, pine nuts and more, to create this wonderful example of fine Sicilian cuisine. This recipe makes a very special and tasty dinner.
Cuisine: Sicilian
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ½ cup (75g) currants
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
  • ¼ cup (45g) rinsed capers
  • 2 lbs (900g) fresh sardines or 1 lb (450g) canned sardines
  • 1 lb (450g) bucatini pasta
  • ½ cup (45g) unseasoned dry bread crumbs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) plus 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb (450g) fennel
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ cup (70g) toasted pine nuts
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Finely chop the fennel bulb, and chop the fronds.
  2. Trim and de-bone the fresh sardines – you should get about 1¼ pounds (560 grams).
  3. Bring a pot of water to the boil.
  4. Mix the currants with the wine and red pepper flakes, and set to one side.
  5. Melt the butter in a small skillet, then add the breadcrumbs.
  6. Cook, stirring, until they are golden brown.
  7. Transfer them to a bowl, then stir in a couple tablespoons of oil and set to one side.
  8. Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a heavy skillet over a low-moderate heat.
  9. Add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds, and fennel bulb, plus a little salt.
  10. Cook for 25 minutes until the fennel is tender, stirring occasionally.
  11. Stir in the sardines and wine mixture, using a fork to break the sardines into pieces.
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Add some salt to the boiling water, enough to give it a salty flavor.
  14. Boil the pasta for 8 minutes or until al dente, then drain it.
  15. Return the pasta to the pot and have the heat on low.
  16. Fold in the sardine and fennel mixture, then 4 tablespoons of oil.
  17. Add ¾ of the fennel fronds, capers and pine nuts.
  18. Stir in ¼ of the breadcrumbs, and season with salt and black pepper.
  19. Divide the mixture between 4 warmed serving plates.
  20. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs and fennel fronds on top.


Some More Hot Content For You

Other Posts You Might Like
  • Baked chicken wingsBaked Chicken Wings with Paprika and Cayenne
    These baked chicken wings are so good. If you are in the mood for chicken wings but you don’t want to fry them, try this recipe instead because they come out just as crispy as fried wings but are healthier because they aren’t going to be submerged in fat. A Flavorful Coating for Baked Chicken Wings The coating is made with flour, paprika, garlic salt, pepper and cayenne, and the wings are cooked in a little butter to crisp them up and stop them sticking to the baking dish. Swap the cayenne pepper for Hungarian paprika if you want, or the garlic salt for regular salt and a pinch of garlic powder, and the flavor of our baked .....
  • Tuna Nicoise Salad
    The classic French tuna nicoise salad is made with tuna, tomatoes, eggs, and nicoise olives. It can be served on a platter or on single plates. Some people like to serve it on a bed of salad leaves while others do not. You can use cooked or canned tuna. Perhaps you have had this before in a French restaurant, in which case it would have been made with ahi tuna (or canned tuna if it was a more casual setting). The following recipe shows you how to recreate this wonderfully balanced dish yourself. Optional Ingredients in Tuna Nicoise Salad Optional ingredients in tuna nicoise salad might include shallots, sweet red peppers and artichoke .....
  • Anchovy and Melon Salad RecipeAnchovy and Melon Salad Recipe
    This anchovy and melon salad recipe is a simple and easy dish which tastes very good. The citrus and melon flavors go perfectly with the fish while the watercress sprigs make a pretty garnish. If you are low on time, why not have a go at this easy anchovy and melon salad recipe? Aromatic Healthy Melon Melon is so nice to use in a salad because it has a unique and very refreshing flavor. This simple anchovy and melon salad recipe is one of our more interesting starter recipes and it is especially nice to serve in the summer when you are looking for something refreshing. Some More Hot Content For You Easy UK Appetizer Ideas Decadent Chocolate .....
  • Crab RangoonCrab Rangoon Wontons
    Crab rangoon wontons are always popular at buffets and dinner parties. They make a great appetizer before a meat or poultry main course. You can garnish them with fresh dill if you like. Since dill is traditionally served with fish, this will indicate to your dinner guests that the wontons contain fish or seafood. Crab rangoon wontons are known as crab puffs in Pacific northwest states. They might also be called crab meat cheese, cheese crab wontons, crab pillows or crab cheese wontons. Regardless of how you call them, these crab rangoon wontons are always amazing. History of Crab Rangoon Crab rangoon has featured on Trader Vic’s menu since .....
  • Standard Kitchen Cabinet Dimensions
    When planning a new kitchen or renovating your existing kitchen, there are various things that you need to know if you are going to do the work yourself, especially standard kitchen cabinet dimensions. “What are the standard kitchen cabinet dimensions” is a very common question to ask and you will need to know the answer so you can plan what to buy and also so you can plan what is going to go where and what exactly you are going to have in there. If space is at a premium you might be limited in the amount of drawers, cabinets and workspace you are able to get. Now, standard kitchen cabinet dimensions: base kitchen cabinets are 24 .....
  • Warm Spinach Bacon SaladWarm Spinach Salad with Bacon and Shallots
    How does a warm spinach salad with bacon and shallots sound to you? This is a really satisfying recipe, and one of those you will be happy you made. Here, spinach is teamed with spinach and shallots, as well as garlic, nutmeg and even some hard-boiled egg if you like. Go ahead and add all your favorite ingredients to this warm spinach salad with bacon and shallots. Go ahead and personalize this salad as much as you want. It is going to taste great anyway. The result is a salad which is ideal for the cooler months and can be served alongside any meat, poultry or even seafood dish. Or you can enjoy the warm spinach salad with bacon and .....
  • How to Use a Bamboo Steamer
    A bamboo steamer is very simple to use and you can get one online or from your local Asian grocery store. Before you use it you should wash it in soapy water and let it air-dry. This is very important, especially if you live somewhere humid, so it does not become moldy. Rinse it and let it air-dry after every use. Knowing how to use a bamboo steamer is very simple so read on for some more tips. These steamers are really cheap to buy, especially when compared to the stainless steel type. This means if you aren’t sure whether you will like steaming, you simply want to give it a go, or you don’t think you will be steaming often then .....
  • Wonton IdeasWhat are Wontons
    So, What are Wontons Exactly? A wonton, which can also be spelt wanton, wuntun, won ton or wantan, is a type of Chinese dumpling. Wontons are made by wrapping your chosen filling in a wonton wrapper and then molding the wonton into the shape you like. You can dip your fingertip into water to moisten the edges of the wonton wrapper before sealing it – this helps it to stick better and stay closed, because the water dissolves the extra flour. Make sure you squeeze all the air out of the wonton, else it might rupture because of the internal pressure from the trapped air. What are wontons? Well they’re one of the most delicious little .....
  • Beef in Chinese Cuisine
    Beef in Chinese cuisine. Yes it’s there, just not the most popular choice, at least in authentic Chinese cuisine. Beef is not used nearly as much as pork in Chinese cuisine, so when the Chinese talk about ‘meat’ they are usually referring to pork. Beef is used quite a bit in Szechuan cuisine, probably because there are more oxen in that region. Steamed beef is coated with cornstarch to make a gravy, while stir-fried beef is cooked until chewy. Beef is not as versatile as pork, for example they are not good for making a beef version of pork meatballs, which is why beef is not so popular. You will not find beef in Chinese .....
  • Easy Baked Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes
    This easy baked chicken breasts with tomatoes dish is a wonderful recipe for busy weeknights. All you need to do is add the chicken with the other ingredients to an ovenproof dish and then bake it until the chicken is cooked through. Yes it really is that easy to make this wonderful easy baked chicken breasts with tomatoes meal! Recipes like this appeal to the whole family from the smallest to the most senior, and you can either make the recipe as it is written, or take a look in your refrigerator and see which vegetables you have which can be used up. Serve the finished baked chicken with asparagus and mashed potatoes, with broccoli and .....

Tasty Query - recipes search engine