Hello , this is Chef John from food wishes dot com with pasta .
That's right .
We're doing Sicily's famous pasta with a sauce of sardines and fennel .
And I'm looking forward to showing you my version of it .
Oh , by the way , some of my friends in Sicily had a message for me to give to you .
They said if you make this pasta , please use Sicilian olive oil .
It's good for you actually .
Hold on .
I didn't get that right .
The exact phrasing was use Sicilian olive oil .
You know what's good for you ?
All right .
That makes more sense .
But anyway , let's get started and last things first , this unbelievably delicious pasta gets finished with a topping of crispy fried bread crumbs .
So we'll set a pan on medium heat and we'll toss in a few handfuls of fresh bread crumbs along with a generous drizzle of the aforementioned extra virgin olive oil .
And all we're gonna do is toast those crumbs until they're golden brown and crispy .
And please don't use any of those dried crumbs out of the canister .
So just crumble up some fresher stuff , bread and toast it in some olive oil until it looks like this at which point we'll just transfer that into a bowl of cool .
And what we'll do is we'll crumble that over our pasta when it's done .
So our bread crumbs are set and we can move on to the sardines and good news .
My version uses canned sardines , not fresh , which are traditional .
So I'm gonna use two cans , make sure you get the ones packed in olive oil .
Not only is the sardine gonna to be more delicious .
The oil it's packed in is gonna be very flavorful .
And we're actually gonna use that in the sauce and all we need to do to get this ready is kind of break it up on a plate and while you're breaking it up , one optional step , if you want , you can pull out the back bones and just so , you know , this is an aesthetic thing .
Those bones are actually very soft and completely edible .
But some people and by some , I mean , most kind of freak out when they see small vertebrae in their pasta .
So as you're breaking this up , you can pull those out if you want .
And then once that's done , I want you to go ahead and add any olive oil that came packed with the sardines .
Just add that right to the plate .
You should have a good couple of tablespoons that came with it and then we'll simply set that aside until needed , which isn't going to be very long So our fish is set and it's on to the second most important ingredient , the fennel and there's basically two parts we're gonna use .
We have that white bulb at the bottom , but we're also gonna pick off and chop up some of these wispy green leaves which some people refer to as frons .
And what we want to do is pick off some of those green leaves and chop those up .
We want a couple of tablespoons of those to put in at the end of the pasta .
And as far as the white part goes , we're gonna cut that in half and basically dice it like an onion .
So I'm gonna cut it down like this and then just slice it across into kind of small pieces .
And if you want , at the end , you give it a little extra chop as with most pasta sauces , precision cutting , not really imperative here .
So we'll dice up our fennel and like I said , we'll save some of those fennel leaves and at that point , we can actually start cooking this pasta .
So what we're gonna do is we're gonna place a nice large skillet on medium heat and we're gonna pour in a whole whole bunch of Sicilian olive oil and into that , we're gonna throw one diced onion and the fennel .
We just chopped up along with a nice big pinch of salt .
And what we're gonna do is we're gonna saute that onion and fennel on medium heat until it's soft .
So take your time with this back , the heat down a little bit if you need to .
We don't want brown these vegetables .
We don't want a lot of color on these .
We just want them to kind of sweat soften and sweeten .
So that's probably gonna take you a good 10 minutes at least .
So , we'll let that cook for a while and we're waiting .
Let's go ahead and prep our saffron wine mixture .
So I'm gonna put a pinch of saffron threads in a mortar .
All right , we don't want too much .
Just a pinch and make sure you're buying the real stuff .
Do not buy your saffron from a guy in the park and we'll do is we'll grind that for a couple of seconds .
And then once pulverized , we will add some white wine and we'll give that a mix and that is now ready to pour into our pan at the proper time .
So we'll go ahead and get that ready while our veggies are cooking , which by this point should be close .
So let's go ahead and check these out , see if they're ready .
And it's very easy to tell .
Just push down with your spatula and if those pieces of fennel and onion are nice and soft , you're ready to proceed .
And at this point , we can add three very important ingredients .
We're gonna throw in one anchovy filet , some minced garlic and some chopped up golden raisins .
So you might have seen the first two ingredients come in , but the golden raisins are very important here .
We really need that little bit of sweetness to balance out these other flavors .
So I don't care if you like raisins or not , you're gonna add them .
So we'll stir that in .
We're still on medium heat here and we're just gonna cook that for about a minute or two .
We just want to sizzle that garlic a little bit .
And as you'll see , the anchovy will kind of dissolve into the mixture .
So cook that stirring for about a minute .
At which point , we will add our saffron infused wine , just pour it in .
We'll give it a stir .
And this is really the only dangerous part of the recipe because what we want to do is cook this on medium for about two minutes until that wine is just about gone .
So don't walk away because if you're not paying attention , this can burn .
So stand there stirring and about two minutes later , it should look something like this .
All right .
So that looks good .
Next up , we're gonna take a ladle full of our boiling pasta water , which by the way , you've set up ahead of time , make sure your pasta water is ready to roll when you start this recipe .
So I want you to add a ladle of that in maybe a cup or so , as you'll see later , it's gonna be up to you to adjust the liquid level .
So we'll put in some pasta water and then right before we actually cook our pasta , we're gonna add two more ingredients , some red pepper flakes and some toasted pine nuts .
Oh , man , those are good in here .
So we'll stir that in .
And at that point , all we'll do is let that simmer gently next to our pot of boiling salted water while we cook our pasta .
And speaking of pasta , we're actually gonna use bucatini , which is a thick hollow spaghetti .
So I'm gonna go ahead and toss in a half a pound of bucatini .
And of course , because we're gonna finish the pasta with the sauce we want undercook this by at least a minute .
All right .
Kind of a key point .
All right .
So our pasta is cooking , our sauce has been prepped and it's on to the final steps .
So right before your timer rings for the pasta , we will add our sardines to the pan along with , like I said , any olive oil that came in the can and of course , accumulated juices and we'll distribute that throughout our mixture .
And then as soon as the timer rings from the pasta , I'm gonna add it into my pan and no , I'm not draining it .
Bucatini or thick spaghetti .
Easy to grab with the tongs like this .
That way .
We still have our pot of pasta water next to this pan to add as needed .
So , fish out your bucatini and add it to your sauce .
And at that point , you're gonna crank the heat to medium high and finish this off by tossing that in the hot sauce .
And as you're doing this , you want to make sure this mixture is very wet and juicy .
You see me adding some pasta water in here and I only showed that once , but I did that like three or four times because like I said , you really want a lot of moisture .
That's how it has to look in the pan .
Otherwise it's gonna be way too dry when it hits the bowl .
So we're gonna keep tossing and cooking that over medium high in that hot sauce for a couple of minutes .
And once you think your pasta has been cooked through and has absorbed all those beautiful flavors , turn off the heat , you're basically done .
And I said basically because we got to do two things .
We're gonna add our reserve fennel leaves , we try earlier and of course , this would be the perfect time to taste for seasoning .
And once that's mixed in and it is tasting exactly like we want it .
We will serve that up into some hot bowls .
Maybe we'll garnish with a few extra toasted pine nuts and a nice handful of the bread crumbs .
We fried up earlier assuming you have not eaten them all , which is a possibility .
And then last but not least a little extra fresh fennel in that pasta is done .
And I'm telling you what if you never had this before you are in for a huge treat .
That sweet aromatic fennel is just perfect with the sardine .
You can see the beautiful color it gave it , but we have a little bit of that hint of saffron in the background .
A little bit of heat from the chili .
A little bit of sweet from the raisin and above and beyond taste .
Of course , we got that textural interest from those crunchy bread crumbs and the pine nuts .
It's just a beautiful looking and tasting bowl of food .
Of course , if you can get fresh sardine filets , use them Baloi won't be able to , which is not a problem .
And this is absolutely delicious with the canned sardine , which is pretty inexpensive .
So there's no excuse not to have a few cans in the pantry for occasions such as this .
So I really do hope you give that a try .
Head over to food wishes dot com for all the ingredient amounts and more info as usual and as always , enjoy .