This is a traditional first dish from Sicily that uses some of the best flavours of this land together with sardines, a fish that I love very much because it is very good, cheap, healthy and ethical. It also uses wild fennel, a plant that grows spontaneously in the Mediterranean lands. If you can’t find it you can easily substitute it with dill.
I like this simple version of the recipe but some Sicilians add a bit of saffron to it — you can try!
Time: 25 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
350 g bucatini
400 g fresh sardines
a bunch of fresh wild fennel (or, if you can’t find it, fresh dill), ca. 50 g
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp pine nuts
3 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Wash the fennel, cut off the stems at put it into the water.
- Soak the raisins in a glass of water for some minutes till they are soft.
- On a non-stick pan roast the breadcrumbs until they are golden brown. Set aside.
- Press the cloves of garlic with a knife and put it in a pan with a couple of spoons olive oil. Drain the raisins and add them to the garlic, together with the pine nuts.
- Add the sardines, they will cook very quickly and when they start to fall apart turn off the heat, leaving everything on the pan.
- By now the water should be boiling. Take off the fennel and add a good spoon of sea salt to the water. Chop the fennel and add it to the sardines, mixing gently.
- Cook the bucatini. When they are al dente transfer them to the pan with the sardines, mixing gently on low heat, adding some cooking water to keep them juicy and finally adding the breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.