Pasta with Sardines (Pasta con le Sarde) I was first introduced to pasta with sardines, pine nuts, and raisins by a Sicilian friend in college. When I finally visited Sicily myself, I ate this classic dish every time I got the chance. There were many variations of this dish; this one with the olive oil-packed sardines and thick breadcrumbs is especially delicious. Save some of the wispy green fennel fronds to sprinkle over the top along with the breadcrumbs. You can also serve this sauce over polenta or greens. Serves 4
1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil 1 medium fennel (pull fronds off and save to sprinkle on the top) bulb, thinly sliced (1 cup) 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (thinly sliced) 1/4 cup tomato paste 1/2 cup water Pinch saffron 1/2 cup white wine Salt and black pepper 1/4 cup currants 2 3.75 or 4-ounce cans sardines packed in olive oil, drained
8 ounces spaghetti, preferably whole wheat or rice
Dry toast the pine nuts in a medium to large heavy bottomed skillet until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the pine nuts and set aside.
Add the olive oil along with the fennel and onions to the same skillet and sauté over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender and browned, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the tomato paste with the water and mix thoroughly. Add the tomato water, the saffron, the wine, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer about 5 minutes or so uncovered, until the sauce is thickened. Stir in the pine nuts, currants and the sardines and stir gently to heat through. Try to break up the sardines as little as possible. Sprinkle with fresh pepper.
Make the breadcrumbs. Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the breadcrumbs and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until browned and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Bring a 4-quart pot of water to a boil and add a teaspoon salt. Add the pasta and cook about 10 minutes until al dente. Drain, and save a little of the pasta cooking liquid. Use about 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to thin the sauce.
Toss the pasta in the sauce. Serve hot , sprinkled with breadcrumbs and the fennel greens.
A veteran restaurant chef, recipe developer and editor, private chef and menu consultant, Myra Kornfeld believes that good food, enjoyed in good company, with great conversation is among the greatest of life's pleasures.
Myra is the acclaimed author of several great cookbooks, including these titles available at MyraKornfeld.com:
The Healthy Hedonist: More than 200 Delectable Flexitarian Recipes
The Healthy Hedonist Holidays
The Voluptuous Vegan: More than 200 Sinfully Delicious Recipes.
Myra Kornfeld is also the Head Chef & Content Manager of MyFoodMyHealth.com, an instructor at The Natural Gourmet School of Health and Culinary Arts, the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, and the graduate program in Nutrition and Integrative Health at the Tai Sophia Institute.