Sicilian sardine pasta – bursting with flavour

Sicily is a place that gets me all excited because, as an island, there are many cultural influences on the food. Not least North African. This means interesting little dishes like this one have evolved, that combine typical Italian food such as pasta with North African staples such as raisins and flaked almonds.

easy quick sicilian sardine pasta

This seriously tasty dish contains a wealth of flavours and textures, only takes 25 mins to make and uses tinned sardines. In my head I imagine every Sicilian grandma has a version of this dish and it is the cause of many an argument. Anyway it will be interesting to see what my Italian friend Gio (and son of a Sicilian woman) makes of it! Recipe courtesy of Jane Baxter in Guardian Cook.

One final note – the recipe contains anchovies, which are one of my *exciting ingredients*. They are brilliant used as seasoning for many pasta dishes and tomato/cream sauces – they just melt in to the heat and add a salty richness. They definitely should not just be considered hairy little fish.

Sicilian sardine pasta – serves 4

2 tbsp raisins/sultanas
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes/crushed chillies
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 anchovy fillets (from a tin)
2 x 120g tins of sardines in olive oil
3 tbsp water
400g spaghetti
2 tbsp toasted almonds/pinenuts (you can buy them toasted or do this in a hot, dry pan for a couple of mins – just keep turning so they don’t burn)
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl cover the sultanas/raisins with boiling water and set aside.

In a large pan, cook the red onion, chilli and fennel seeds in the olive oil over a medium heat for approx 10 mins. Add the garlic and cook gently for another 5 mins. Tip in the anchovy fillets and stir well until they have ‘melted’.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta as per the pack instructions.

Drain the tinned sardines, roughly chop and add to the onion mixture with 3 tbsp water. Put back on the heat for a few mins and stir until all warmed through. Add the (drained) sultanas/raisins, almonds/pinenuts and the parsley. Add the pasta, mix well and season. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a fresh sprig of parsley.

Recipe by Jane Baxter in Guardian Cook