Pasta Con Sarde (Sardines)

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This recipe is Sicilian in origin with a few Penaches. Before you gag “UG– Sardines! !” and toss this recipe aside, pretend you are in Taomorina in a sidewalk cafe looking at at the beautiful people strolling by. Your handsome waiter suggests this pasta and becaue you are swept up in his beauty and the scent of almond blossoms, you order “Pasta con Sarde” not knowing that sarde means sardines.  When you taste the dish and he asks if you like it,  you respond “Delicioso!”  And know what?  You are telling the truth.


  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes in thick puree or preferably 2 1/2 cups of Basic Tomato Sauce (Recipe in “Techniques” — “Frying and Baking”)
  • 1 can of sardines drained (If you like sardines you can use 2 cans)
  • 1 cup of ground pistachios (not salted ) or almonds — finely ground not pulverized
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • Fresh basil chopped  – about 1 cup loosely packed
  • 1 cup of rasins — or currants
  • 2 stalks of fennel chopped very finely using only the bulb end ….or 2 tbs of fennel seeds
  • Pecorino or Locatelli cheese grated (about 3/4 cup)


  • Brown the garlic and chopped fennel or fennel  seeds in olive oil
  • Add the drained can (s ) of sardines and some (3/4 cup)  of the tomato sauce
  • Cook quickly crushing sardines, fennel and garlic as you do…. you will be getting a paste-like mixture
  • Add the rest of the tomatoes and combine with the fennel etc.
  • Add the rasins, pistachio (or whatever nuts) this will make the sauce thicker (you may need to thin it a bit with pasta water later)
  • Add the  chopped basil.
  • Cook slowly for about 20 minutes then keep warm.
  • Cook a pound of pasta like ziti or cavatelli  (reserve some water)
  • Drain (do not rinse) the pasta and return to the pot.
  • Add the sauce in increments and coat the pasta with it over a low heat.  The starch in the pasta will combine with the sauce.  You don’t want the pasta swimming in sauce, so you may have some left over. If so you can serve it ont he side.
  •  When the pasta is coated quickly stir in the cheese a little at a time and serve immediately. 

You may have extra cheese, sauce and ground nuts on the table.