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

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Wash the fen­nel, cut off the stems at put it into the water.
  2. Soak the raisins in a glass of water for some min­utes till they are soft.
  3. On a non-stick pan roast the bread­crumbs until they are gold­en brown. Set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the sar­dines, they will cook very quick­ly and when they start to fall apart turn off the heat, leav­ing every­thing on the pan.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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