Pasta con Sarde

By • February 29, 2012 23 Comments

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Author Notes: I fell is love with this dish some 25 years ago when a restaurant in Manhattan named Siracusa (long gone) had it on their menu. Today, no Italian restaurant I frequent makes this wonderful pasta.
Since I really love it and there are no complicated or hidden ingredients, I've been making it at home and even served it one year for our fish-only xmas even dinner.
It's simple and forgiving and the amounts can be adjusted to suit individual tastes.
Bucatini is the traditional pasta used but it's often hard to find so spaghetti will work fine.

Food52 Review: WHO: FOOD52er blanka.n is a food writer living in New York.
WHAT: A classic Italian seafood pasta with both anchoves and sardines, round out with fennel and a healthy hit of olive oil.
HOW: Not counting the pot you use to boil the pasta, this is a one-dish meal -- weeknight dinner, anyone?
WHY WE LOVE IT: The flavors and textures of this pasta are perfectly balanced, from the bite of the currants to the crunch of the pine nuts.
The Editors

Serves 4 - 6

  • 1 Small onion
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 1 Fennel bulb, thinly sliced, reserve fronds
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup White wine
  • 6 Flat anchovies
  • 2 Cans of sardines
  • 4 tablespoons Dried currants or raisins
  • 4 tablespoons Pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds, crushed
  • dashes Red Pepper flakes
  • 1 pound Bucatini pasta
  1. Saute onion and fennel in a pan large enough to hold pasta. Cook for about 5 minutes, add garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until soft. Add wine and continue cooking. Add anchovies and sardines, breaking them up with wooden spoon. Add currants, pine nuts, fennel seeds and pepper flakes. Continue on very low flame.
  2. Boil pasta til al dente and add to sardine mixture. Add some of the pasta cooking water to create sauce if too dry. You can also add more olive oil and serve with reserved chopped fronds.

More Great Recipes: Pasta|Entrees|Fennel

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Comments (23) Questions (2)


28 days ago Gria Andolina

I think Siracusa may have been the very best restaurant in NY. I lived in SF and every time i got to NY it was my first stop. their gelato was to die for. It was the only time Italian food in the states tasted the way it did in Italy. I heard that they may have opened a separate gelato place . does anyone know about this?


4 months ago Stubor

If I use chopped pecans and/or roasted pumpkin seeds, will I go to Hell?


about 1 year ago ike

DELICIOUS. just made it, keeping the recipe!


over 1 year ago walkie74

I ended up making tomorrow's lunch tonight (it's a little past midnight as I type this). Good thing this dish is fast, or I'd be in a heap of trouble. Since my husband isn't overly fond of sardines, I only added one can and doubled the amount of anchovies (his favorite). Thanks for sharing!


about 2 years ago betta.c

this is really similar to a venetian dish called 'bigoli in salsa' soooooo good


over 2 years ago Food212

Aaah blanka.n therenis still one place left!!! Del' Arte in Orangeburg, NY Near Nyack in Rockland County. A great family run place, it was a special, but I think they moved it to the regular menu. The chef amd owner told me it was how his grandmother coocked when he grew up. Worth the drive. Ask if on the menu, if mot ask if he will cook it for you!!


over 2 years ago MQAvatar

If you need even more richness, add a dollop of creme fraiche to your leftovers. Yum.


over 2 years ago MQAvatar

My wife and I made this last night and we loved it. What a great pantry dinner!


over 2 years ago ela_tarantella

Buono! But not just Italian, it's Sicilian! And a very well-like dish in Sicily... most people I ask in Sicily tell me that pasta con le sarde is their favorite Sicilian pasta dish.


over 2 years ago ela_tarantella



over 2 years ago monstermeggers

Just made this tonight, and this is a new pasta favourite! Really easy and super quick. Fantastic recipe!


over 2 years ago meeshybells

This is such a traditional Sicilian specialty usually included in the Christmas Eve dinner. There is a great canned version (Pastene brand) of this sauce made with wild Italian fennel and currants, which is the Italian cook's choice for this recipe. Usually we tweak the canned contents with sauteed onion and tomato paste and you then have the traditional recipe.


almost 3 years ago blanka.n

Thanks for all the praise! What I really love is that this is a year-round pasta dish that can be served for 2 or a dinner party.


about 3 years ago kstallbe

Blanka, thanks so much for sharing this. I have added this dish to the rotation of my weeknight meals and I love it. I have to admit that my wife only tolerates it, but who cares, I do the cooking! HAHA!


about 3 years ago student epicure

this is one of my favorite food52 recipes! i like to add an extra fennel bulb to increase the veg content. really, spectacular.


about 3 years ago Sarag

Just from reading through the recope I can tell this will be wonderful. I hope it will be wonderful enough to redeem my not so great gluten free pasta.


over 3 years ago AnnieHynes

I made this for the family, didn't tell my teenagers that it contained sardines and anchovies...needless to say they loved it! your use of fennel was inspired! Thanks for sharing!!


over 3 years ago kstallbe

This was amazing. Ive made several fish and pasta dishes, and this, by far, was the best I have ever had. My wife, who usually grimaces at my fish and pasta dishes, loved this one.

I nominate this for a genius recipe! Thanks for sharing!


over 3 years ago kstallbe

Oh, and I cheated by using anchovy paste and it came out great,


over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Congratulations - it sounds lovely with the sweet currants and the pine nuts too. Well done


over 3 years ago vrunka

Wow, this sounds fabulous -- just the kind of dish I love! Congrats!


over 3 years ago soupandsong

Can't wait to try this!