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     Pasta con le Sarde Header

            Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines)
   Pasta con le Sarde Photo
Category: Pasta & Rice, Spaghetti, Fish, Holidays
Servings: 4 - 6
Total time: 1 hr
Level: Intermediate
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An authentic Italian recipe from our kitchen to yours. Buon Appetito!


- 1 box of your favorite brand of bucatini or spaghetti

- 1 pound fresh sardine fillets, scaled, gutted and deboned

- 1 pound wild fennel, cleaned and rinsed (or 1/4 pound fennel fronds from conventional fennel bulbs)

- 1 small onion, peeled and minced

- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed well

- 1 packet ground saffron

- 1 tablespoon raisins

- 1 tablespoon pine nuts

- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground, toasted almonds

- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

- 1/2 cup bread crumbs

- Salt and pepper


1.  Place the raisins in a bowl and cover them with water. Let them soak for at least 20 minutes.

2.  In a separate bowl, add 1/4 cup of water and the packet of saffron. Mix the saffron well so it dissolves into the water and set it aside.

3.  While the raisins are soaking, fill a large pot 3/4 full with water and about 1 tablespoon of salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a rolling boil.




4.  As the water is heating, clean the wild fennel, choosing only the most tender fronds. The woody ends are to be discarded, at which point, you should have roughly 1/4 to 1/3 pound of fennel for boiling. If using the fronds from the conventional fennel bulbs, use the most tender parts that extend from the bulb. The woody stem the fronds are attached to can be discarded or saved for another use.

5.  Once the water is boiling, place the fennel into the water and cook for 2 - 4 minutes or until the fronds are bright green and soft. Strain the fennel from the water but do not discard the water. You will use this to boil the pasta and add more flavor to your dish.

6.  Set the cooked fennel aside and, in a separate pan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and the minced onion. Sauté the onion in the oil until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the cleaned and rinsed anchovy fillets to the pan. Continue sautéing the ingredients in the pan until the anchovy fillets break apart and melt into the mixture. Make sure the pan does not get too hot and lower the heat if necessary so as not to brown the onions.

7.  At this point, add the saffron water to the pan with the onions and mix the ingredients well. Then proceed to add the sardine fillets to the pan.

8.  Drain the water from the raisins, rinse them and then add them to the pan with the sardines along with the ground, toasted almonds and the pine nuts. Mix all of the ingredients together in the pan and let the mixture cook for another 10 - 12 minutes.

9.  In the meantime, bring the water you used to cook the fennel back to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the water and cook it to an al dente consistency according to the manufacturer's instructions.

10.  As the sardine sauce and the pasta cook, gather the cooked fennel fronds into a bunch and chop them into about 1/2 inch sections. Add the chopped fennel to the sardine mixture. Fold the ingredients together thoroughly and continue cooking the mixture over medium heat for another 5 - 10 minutes. When the mixture is almost finished cooking, taste the sauce and add a pinch of salt and pepper to your taste.

11.  In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add the bread crumbs to the pan. Mix the bread crumbs into the oil and sauté them until they begin to turn a uniform golden brown. Once browned, remove the bread crumbs from the heat.

12.  When the pasta reaches al dente consistency, strain it from the cooking water and add the pasta to the pan with the sardine mixture. Fold all of the pasta into the sardine sauce and mix well. If the sauce is too dry, add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the sardine sauce and fold all of the ingredients well. Continue adding the water until you reach your desired consistency for the sauce.

13.  Plate the pasta, top with the toasted bread crumbs. Serve immediately.


To toast whole almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 1/4 cup almonds on a sheet pan and bake them on the center rack in the oven for about 8 - 10 minutes. Once baked, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes, then place them in the food processor and pulse about 5 - 7 times until you have fine granules roughly the size of uncooked polenta kernels.