It's impossible to go to Southern Italy without trying pasta con le sarde, the famous and most traditional of Sicilian dishes. The Sicilians are masters at blending sweet with salty and savory flavors, and pasta con le sarde is the perfect dish for both the peak of summer's heat and a cold winter's night as it can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature.
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch wild fennel fronds, chopped
- 12 Ounces bucatini
- 1/4 Cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 6 Ounces sardine fillets, cleaned and deboned
- 4 anchovies
- 1 Tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 Tablespoon raisins
- Pinch of wild fennel pollen
- 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, toasted
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and prepare an ice bath.
Blanch the wild fennel fronds until just wilted and transfer to the ice bath. Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, drain, and reserve some of the cooking water for the sauce.
In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and fennel fronds until golden. Then, add the sardine fillets and anchovies, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts, raisins, and wild fennel pollen. If the sauce is too dry, add some cooking water, and simmer the sauce for a few minutes.
Add the pasta to the sauce, and mix very well for about 1 minute. Top with the breadcrumbs and serve.