Many Sicilian-Americans serve this dish, laced with golden raisins and fennel, on Christmas Eve. This recipe first appeared in our December 2011 issue along with the special feature Italian America.
Pasta con le Sarde
Many Sicilian-Americans serve this dish, laced with golden raisins and fennel, on Christmas Eve.
1⁄2 cup olive oil
1⁄4 tsp. dried oregano
4 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced, plus 1⁄2, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp. tomato paste
1⁄2 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
3 leaves basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large bulb fennel, thinly sliced
1 1⁄4 lb. fresh sardines, filleted and chopped
2 tbsp. flour
4 anchovies, finely chopped
1 cup golden raisins, soaked for 30 minutes, drained
1⁄4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1⁄2 tsp. crushed saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp. warm water
1 lb. spaghetti, cooked
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oregano, 1⁄2 minced onion, and garlic; cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes; cook until reduced, about 30 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; set sauce aside.
Bring a 4-qt. saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add fennel; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain; set aside. Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Toss sardines in flour; add to skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add remaining oil, sliced onions, reserved fennel, and anchovies; cook until very soft, about 14 minutes. Add reserved sauce, raisins, pine nuts, and saffron water; cook to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Add pasta; toss with sardine sauce. Transfer to a large serving platter; sprinkle with parsley.