Meaty pastas such as Bolognese and carbonara tend to attract all the attention. And for good reason—they are hearty, timeless, and comforting.
Which is exactly why you should cook up a pot of pasta con le sarde, a Sicilian pasta loaded with sardines, fennel, pine nuts, and raisins.
Trust us on this one. The flavors make perfect, fork-licking sense.
Or trust Peter McAndrews, chef of the Sicilian restaurant Monsú. “This pasta is nice and complex, but simple,” he says. “You use five or six ingredients, and you don’t mess with them.”
Raisins and pine nuts in a seafood pasta? Oh yeah. “In Sicily,” McAndrews says, “it’s hard to find a dish that doesn’t have one of them.” Raisins bring hits of sweetness that match the brine of the sardines and the tang of the lemon and tomato. (Plus, the sardines deliver about 20 grams of protein per serving—along with a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids.) Fennel’s anise bite and the nutty, evergreen flavor of the pine nuts round help round out the dish.
“It’s traditional,” McAndrews says. “Traditional in that every town has its own tradition.” His is a mash-up of the versions found in Catania and Ragusa, but feel free to make the pasta your own. Like fresh fish? Use it. Don’t have saffron? Lose it.
What you will have every time is a dish you’re going to want to add into your rotation—one that deserves a place in the pasta pantheon right there with pesto, carbonara, and the rest of your favourites.
Sicilian Pasta with Sardines
Recipe adapted from Peter McAndrews of Monsú in Philadelphia, USA