I'm no survivalist, but like any responsible chef I like to have a few cans of sardines stocked away, just in case. If times ever get tough, I could survive for hours, maybe days on them; but since things are going pretty well, I decided to dust off a can, and show you my version of Sicily's famous pasta con le sarde. You can substitute thick spaghetti for the bucatini, if desired.

Recipe Summary

prep:
25 mins
cook:
35 mins
total:
1 hr
Servings:
4
Yield:
4 servings
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Ingredients

4
Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cook and stir bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until bread crumbs are crispy and toasted, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl to cool.

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  • Grind saffron threads with a mortar and pestle; pour white wine into mortar and stir to combine.

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook bucatini in boiling water, stirring occasionally until almost cooked through but firm to the bite, 10 to 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

  • Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and fennel with a pinch of salt in hot oil until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir raisins, garlic, and anchovy fillet into onion mixture; cook and stir until heated through, about 1 minute.

  • Pour saffron-wine into skillet; cook until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Pour 1 ladleful reserved pasta water into skillet and bring to a simmer. Stir pine nuts and red pepper flakes into sauce; simmer until flavors combine and sauce is reduced, about 5 minutes.

  • Stir bucatini and sardines into wine mixture; increase heat to high, and cook, stirring frequently and adding more reserved pasta water as necessary, until sauce and pasta are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls and top with fennel fronds and toasted bread crumbs.

Nutrition Facts

709 calories; protein 27.5g; carbohydrates 72.2g; fat 33.3g; cholesterol 81.4mg; sodium 531.8mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (21)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
07/22/2016
Really good comfort food! And surprisingly easy. I had never had sardines and was intimidated at first but they are so good for you and the video made it look easy. Made only half the recipe with generous amounts of bread crumbs and pine nuts and no saffron. Other than that I followed exactly and it was so worth it! I think it helped to have all the ingredients in place. I made the bread crumbs while pulling everything else together and then cleaned through the canned sardines while the onions/fennel cooked. The textures and flavors had incredible depth. The taste reminded me of the beach! Read More
(6)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
02/23/2019
I've made this dish before using other recipes and this is the least flavorful of them all. I've gone back to the other recipes to try and figure out where this one falls short. The first thing I noticed is that the others use red onions, not white. The second is that because the fennel and onions cook at different rates, the best recipes cook them separately to avoid the onions browning before the fennel. Then they mix them together once cooked. Then there the proportions. I would double the fennel and the garlic. Add a good handful of chopped parsley. Use more anchovy. The sardines are very important. Use a high quality brand packed with olive oil. And, lastly, I don't think bucatini are correct for this dish. I'd use spaghetti. They are thinner and absorb the flavors more evenly. Read More
(6)
26 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 15
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 5 stars
06/16/2015
This dish is delicious. This has become my go-to comfort food. I keep it stocked. The pine nuts, raisins, flavorful sardines and the fennel with a little bit of heat is so good. I really love it. I have made it several times with different white wines and sardine brands. I prefer using a Chablis and Kroger brand sardines (boneless/skinless). I almost always make it with-out the breadcrumbs. I either forget or just plain old don't want to make the extra effort! Either way it's fabulous. This dish and I have converted many onto the beauty of canned sardines. Thanks, Chef John! Read More
(7)
Rating: 5 stars
07/22/2016
Really good comfort food! And surprisingly easy. I had never had sardines and was intimidated at first but they are so good for you and the video made it look easy. Made only half the recipe with generous amounts of bread crumbs and pine nuts and no saffron. Other than that I followed exactly and it was so worth it! I think it helped to have all the ingredients in place. I made the bread crumbs while pulling everything else together and then cleaned through the canned sardines while the onions/fennel cooked. The textures and flavors had incredible depth. The taste reminded me of the beach! Read More
(6)
Rating: 3 stars
02/22/2019
I've made this dish before using other recipes and this is the least flavorful of them all. I've gone back to the other recipes to try and figure out where this one falls short. The first thing I noticed is that the others use red onions, not white. The second is that because the fennel and onions cook at different rates, the best recipes cook them separately to avoid the onions browning before the fennel. Then they mix them together once cooked. Then there the proportions. I would double the fennel and the garlic. Add a good handful of chopped parsley. Use more anchovy. The sardines are very important. Use a high quality brand packed with olive oil. And, lastly, I don't think bucatini are correct for this dish. I'd use spaghetti. They are thinner and absorb the flavors more evenly. Read More
(6)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/23/2015
I'm an big fan of sardines and not a fan of pasta at all so this was interesting for me. I really enjoyed the dish. I bought the slightly more expensive ( 2.50 instead of 99c) sardines in olive oil which turned out to be smaller they had tony bones so they didn't need to be cleaned and they didn't smell at all (unlike the stink of the 99c ones -which I'm totally used to-). I almost slipped the breadcrumbs for panko but I'm glad I didn't. They were great. I had saffron in the house so this dish was super cheap to make too which I really love. Read More
(4)
Rating: 4 stars
03/16/2015
Cooked the recipe as is with the exception of leaving out the pine nuts. I loved it. Everybody else wasn't a fan. They didn't care for the sardines. Great recipe. Read More
(2)
Rating: 3 stars
02/14/2017
The video was very helpful but I think I need to practice. It was OK but not great. Read More
(1)
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Rating: 4 stars
08/23/2017
This was quite good! Did not use the anchovy filet and put in a little extra salt instead. Surprisingly the raisins went really good with the other flavours. Read More
(1)
Rating: 1 stars
04/08/2019
Like the rest of Chef John recipes, this was not good Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
05/22/2019
Yum Yum Yum!!! This is so good. My dad was from Sicily as well as my mothers parents and let me tell you this is very authentic and delicious. That first bite takes me to my ancestors home town of Mazara Del Vallo. Definitely not for everyone as my husband isn't a fan but for me it's molta buona! Read More
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