The original Sicilian recipe calls for wild fennel greens, not the white bulb, but that's not easy to get if you are not in Sicily, so, since i started making it with dill, here in India, i don't miss anymore the unusual scrumptiously taste of "Pasta con le Sarde".
The strange thing is that i don't usually like canned sardines but in this recipe they get so appetizing and heavenly, well i am not exaggerating, i think that's the combination fennel/dill with sardines.
I know that dill and fennel tastes different, but not that much, in fact they belong to the same family, and they are so related that they cross-breed if planted close together.
Don't bother attempting the dish if you can't find wild fennel or dill "greens", seeds won't do.
Ingredients for 5/6 people:
- 500 grams Bucatini or any short pasta you like [here you see Rigatoni]
- 500 grams Wild fennel greens [i have no choice here but to use dill]
- 500 grams fresh sardines [quality canned sardines from Morocco are also good, but not the Asians]
- 100 grams pine nuts [ this is something i really miss here, so the almonds]
- 100 grams breadcrumbs
- 100 grams golden raisins [washed]
- 5 anchovy fillets [Italians "acciughe sotto sale" or "acciughe sott'olio"are the best]
- 1 big onions
- 3 Garlic cloves
- pinch of Saffron pistils
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Clean the wild fennel and boil it in abundant water for a couple of minutes.
- Take the greens out with a slotted spoon, let them cool and squeeze well. Place on a cutter and chop.
- In the same water boil the pasta, so it will get some flavor, and remember the rule of one liter water for every 100 grams of pasta.
- Place the breadcrumbs in a large frying pan and lightly brown with little oil. Take them out of the pan otherwise they go on browning and keep aside for the topping.
- Shallow fry the fresh sardines fillets, in the same pan, for few minutes, remove from pan and keep aside to add to the sauce later. OR open the can, remove scales and spine from sardines, keep fillets.
- In the same pan add some more oil and sauté the minced onions and garlic. When the onions are almost translucent add the anchovies, pine nuts and raisins.
- When the anchovies are melted add the boiled and chopped fennel greens, stir and cook for a couple of minutes with the saffron diluted in little water.
- Add the sardines fillets, stir lightly and toss with pasta cooked "al dente", topping with the toasted breadcrumbs.
You can also place the pasta, topped with breadcrumbs, in a baking pan under the grill for few minutes. Delicious.