Linguine con Finocchio e Sarde

Canned sardines have always had a bad reputation, a reputation that can be extended to any canned fish, even tuna fish has noses turned up at it. I’m into it, but have had moments of keeping my love for all fish canned a secret. I remember discovering sardines in college and would eat them with saltines, something my friends and I labeled a dirty old man snack, it was a secret amongst us girls. I also remembering turning beet red when one of those friends told a boy I liked that I had a taste for canned sardines. Why the shame?

I’m over the shame now, Italy knocked that out of me. No one turns their nose up at canned tuna, salted anchovies and the same would go for canned sardines, which are available, but even better, you can find fresh ones in most fish market. Apparently you can here in the States as well, but not in Charleston. Canned will have to do and they work really well with a pasta dish.

Pasta con le sarde should be Sicily’s regional pasta dish, though most people think of the eggplant and ricotta salata dish, Pasta alla Norma, when they think of Sicily and pasta. We tried pasta con le sarde in almost every restaurant that we visited in Sicily, they add tomato in Agrigento, but “in bianco” in the rest of Sicily. I added a twist, only because I didn’t want the fennel bulb attached the to fronds to go to waste, the next time I may think of another use for the bulb and make it in the traditional style.

Linguine con Finocchio e Sarde

  • 1 can of sardines packed in olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • toasted bread crumbs
  • 1/2 lb of linguini
  • salt for pasta water
  • fennel fronds, chopped

Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add the fennel, sauté for a few minutes until they start to cook. Add the raisins and the pine nuts and simmer until the water for the pasta is boiling.

In the meantime, toast your breadcrumbs in a small heavy bottomed skillet. I usually keep old bread in the freezer and chop it up in a blender when it has thawed, it is much better than store bought breadcrumbs, and two minutes more of an effort.

Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. You should add the sardines to the pan at this point.

When the pasta is perfectly al dente, add a cup of the pasta water to the sauce, turn up the heat and drain the pasta. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor.

Take the pan off of the heat and toss with the toasted bread crumbs and chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

One Year Ago: Salsicce sulla Pietra Ollare

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~ by italicious on December 3, 2009.

4 Responses to “Linguine con Finocchio e Sarde”

  1. small world, my father-in-law lived in Sciacca

  2. This is my all time favorite comfort food. My grandparents (originally from Scicca in Sicily) would make this for St. Joseph’s Day and when ever I would beg them to make it through out the year. I do suggest using PERCIATELLE macaroni with this dish. You won’t be disapointed. Trust me!

  3. Finocchio is so much cooler sounding than fennel. I will now employ this newfound vocab in my fennel filled life.

  4. haha i like canned sardines too! don’t tell anyone though, ok? 😉

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