Weeknight Cooking

Pasta con le Sarde

February 29, 2012
7 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4 - 6
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. —blanka.n

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with DeLallo.

WHO: FOOD52er blanka.n is a food writer living in New York.
WHAT: A classic Italian seafood pasta with both anchovies 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

What You'll Need
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup DeLallo Olive Oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, reserve fronds
  • Salt and pepper, plus more to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 6 DeLallo Flat-Fillet Anchovies (one 2-ounce can should have 7-10)
  • 2 cans of sardines
  • 4 tablespoons dried currants or raisins
  • 4 tablespoons DeLallo Pine Nuts
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 dash red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound DeLallo Bucatini Pasta
  1. In a pan large enough to hold the pasta, warm up the olive oil over medium heat, then sauté the onion and fennel. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they just start to soften, and add garlic, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cook oven medium heat until the onion and fennel are softened, then add wine and continue cooking. Add the anchovies and sardines, breaking them up with wooden spoon. Once they are headed through, add the currants, pine nuts, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to low and continue cooking, giving it a stir every few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, boil pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water for later.
  4. Add the drained pasta to the sardine mixture. You can add a splash of the pasta cooking water to help loosen up the sauce if it's looking a little dry. You can also add more olive oil and serve with reserved chopped fronds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Gria Andolina
    Gria Andolina
  • Stubor
  • walkie74
  • betta.c
  • MQAvatar

36 Reviews

Linda .. December 16, 2022
My father and his family from Palermo made this all the time. They used to use imported canned recipe enhanced with fresh fennel and currants, but the best recipes are in Flavors of Sicily by del Toro on Amazon. Also on 2016 Bobby Chinn Globe trotter series Sicily, the music penetrates your soul from long ago. We don't use red pepper but I do add Grand Marnier to top off, brings out fennel flavor. Please use bucatini, not hard to find at all, no spaghetti for this recipe. I use saffron to color the spaghetti water and add the rest to the sardines and anchovies. I add more anchovies than in the recipe. I use golden raisins soaked in gran marnier or hot water with saffron if currants not on hand. You will love it. Finish with cannoli for dessert and espresso. Mangia
Linda .. December 16, 2022
Globe trekker, not trotter... scuza
Sannasardo March 19, 2022
Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I added a cup of re sauce and we only make it on Saint Joseph day falls on March 19 .and. you it's so delicious.
Linda .. December 16, 2022
I recall the toasted bread crumbs were representative of saw dust from carpenters work-
rosatellu March 19, 2021
This is a Classic Sicilian recipe. If you got to Sicilian restaurants in NYC you will find it. Cacio e Vino, Pasta Eat, Piccola Cucina , & il Gattopardo. There are also certain pizzerias that make Sicilian food. You may have to request it as a special. All of the restaurants have classic Sicilian chefs.
rosatellu March 19, 2021
Pasta Eater &. Cacio e Vino are owned by Chef Giusto Priola
Helen December 14, 2020
We never had this dish in Sicily or elsewhere so wasn't sure what to expect. The recipe left many details out (how to cut onion; drain oil from sardines or add it, etc.) but I soldiered on. I diced the onion; dumped the sardines and oil in and added toasted bread crumbs at the end instead of cheese.

We both thought it was a delicious dish we will make/eat again.
anna G. October 15, 2020
Possibly the yummiest pasta I've cooked!
midgetsal March 16, 2020
super delish!
midgetsal March 16, 2020
Super delish!
Noelle March 15, 2020
I am a huge pasta con le sarde fan and I am sorry to let you know you have left out an extremely important ingredient! This pasta is not served with cheese but toasted bread crumbs.
from a Sicilian American cook.
Gria A. August 6, 2015
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?
Stubor April 21, 2015
If I use chopped pecans and/or roasted pumpkin seeds, will I go to Hell?
ike August 26, 2014
DELICIOUS. just made it, keeping the recipe!
walkie74 December 16, 2013
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!
betta.c July 17, 2013
this is really similar to a venetian dish called 'bigoli in salsa' soooooo good
Food212 March 2, 2013
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!!
MQAvatar March 1, 2013
If you need even more richness, add a dollop of creme fraiche to your leftovers. Yum.
MQAvatar March 1, 2013
My wife and I made this last night and we loved it. What a great pantry dinner!
ela_tarantella February 7, 2013
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.
ela_tarantella February 7, 2013
Linda .. December 16, 2022
Well known recipe in Sicily.... see you tube videos, too and make panelli. On You tube someone showed to cook dough in round can and then cut into slices before frying. ( instead of spreading on a sheet pan and cutting it. So much easier) I add chopped parsley to batter and afterwards, too with fresh lemon juices and grated cheese.
Linda .. December 16, 2022
Cool dough , not cook.
monstermeggers December 30, 2012
Just made this tonight, and this is a new pasta favourite! Really easy and super quick. Fantastic recipe!
meeshybells December 22, 2012
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.
blanka.n November 19, 2012
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.