Pasta con le sarde
(pasta with sardines)
“Pasta con le sarde” (in Sicilian: past “chi sarde”) is another typical Sicilian dish. It is prepared from March to September, that is the only period of the year in which it is possible to find the two essential ingredients; fresh sardines and wild fennel.
The sardine (principal element in this pasta) is a fish which is widely diffused in the Mediterranean sea. It belongs to the same family as anchovies but is fattier and must be cooked not more than eight hours after being caught to keep all its taste.
It is caught between March and September. The sardines used in this dish must be fresh and not preserved in oil and they have to be cleaned and filleted eliminating heads ,tails and bones and then washed and dried in a tea-towel. As far as the type of pasta is concerned, three forms of durum-wheat pasta are advised; “bucatini”, “perciatelli” ( a little bit bigger and given the general name of “maccheroni”) or the “mezzani” or “mezzoziti”. The mountain fennel referred to in the recipe is wild fennel.
In this pasta, the most tender parts – buds, youngest stems and the feathery “beard” are used. This fennel can be picked in the country from Spring to Autumn in the same period as the fresh sardines can be found. The other ingredients for the classical recipe are onion, salted anchovies ( if sardines are not available), currants, pine nuts saffron, oil, salt and pepper. As a typical dish it is possible to taste it in the taverns and restaurants in the square or along the promenade.
What else can you say about this tasty dish? Eating is believing!!