Sicilian Sardine and Broccoli Rabe Pasta

By • January 14, 2010 15 Comments

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Author Notes: I created this recipe in an effort to make sardines more appealing. Since they're used often in Sicilian cuisine, I made a Sicilian inspired dish, with bold broccoli rabe. Wine-soaked sweet raisins and zesty lemon temper the more robust sardines and broccoli rabe, making a well-balanced pasta that will tempt even the sardine-averse.Food Blogga

Serves 2 main or 4 side dishes

  • 1 medium bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), stems removed
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (soaked in white wine)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 (3.75 -ounce) cans sardines in olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons halved Kalamata olives
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, preferably sweeter Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 ounces rigatoni
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Boil broccoli rabe for 1 ½-2 minutes; remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Shocking the rabe will maintain its vivid green color and stop it from cooking. Using the same pan, bring the water to a boil again, and add the pasta. Cook until al dente.
  2. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with some dry white wine. Let them soak about 10 minutes to become infused with the flavor of the wine.
  3. In a small, dry skillet over medium heat add the pine nuts and breadcrumbs. Shake pan in a back-and-forth motion until they are are golden and aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add garlic and shallots, sauteing 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Drain the broccoli rabe, pat dry, and add to the skillet.
  5. Drain the sardines. Using a fork, break sardines into small pieces and add to the skillet. Add the drained raisins, olives, lemon juice, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, and salt. Sauté 1-2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  6. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the broccoli rabe mixture. Add toasted bread crumb mixture and fresh parsley and toss. Drizzle with quality extra virgin olive oil before serving.

More Great Recipes: Pasta|Vegetables|Entrees|Side Dishes|Fish & Seafood

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Comments (15) Questions (0)


over 2 years ago Dianecpa



over 2 years ago Krukker

I think I did something wrong. It seemed like there was something missing - I had to add a lot more salt. Looked amazing but was overly fishy. Maybe the sardines weren't great?? I really want to love this recipe :-/


almost 3 years ago aquarius

I just ordered the Portuguese sardines that Food 52 is offering and found your recipe. Love all these ingredients and can't wait till my little fishies arrive to try it.


over 5 years ago puglia4foodies

Fantastic recipe! I will certainly try! what about adding capers? the very tiny ones? I love capers with sardines...and they are both Sicilian....


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

Why not? I think capers would go well.


over 5 years ago Sodium Girl

Yes! Now I have a delicious sardine recipe to try


over 5 years ago Food Blogga



over 5 years ago amysarah

amysarah is a trusted home cook.

This looks great - kind of a riff on one of my all time favorite pastas (the classic Pasta con Sarde.) Also, sardines are one of those foods I always think I should eat more often - lots of calcium, etc. - but somehow rarely do. Now, I have no excuse not to.


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

I feel the same about them, though it doesn't take much convincing to get my husband to eat them.


over 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Yum. I love anchovies and broccoli/broccoli rabe together, so sardines seem like a natural extension of that pairing.


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

Then you should definitely like this!


over 5 years ago TasteFood

This is packed with zesty, spicy and bold flavors, and it's right up my alley!


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

I'm glad to hear it!


over 5 years ago The Teacher Cooks

This pasta dish looks so good. I love the brocolli rabe, but am not sure about the sardines.


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

I know. But it's a good dish to try if you're hesitant about sardines.