Cesarina Antonella’s story of Sicilian Pasta chi sardi
This dish is considered a ‘classic’ of Sicilian cuisine and perhaps the most original.
The ingredients of the recipe make it perfect for creating a single dish meal. What characterizes it most is the contrast between spicy and sweet, typical of Sicilian-Arab cuisine.
The origin of the dish is legendary. It is attributed to the cook of the Arab general, Eufemio, who after landing in Sicily to conquer the island found himself having to feed his troops in precarious conditions. The cook called on his talents to create a dish with what was available locally, i.e. fish and fennel.
He then came up with the innovative idea of adding pine nuts, raisins and saffron.
Cesarina Antonella’s recipe
• 400 g bucatini pasta made with durum wheat semolina
• 150 gr wild fennel
• 350 gr fresh sardines, deboned
• 1/2 onion
• 2 well-cleaned salted anchovies
• 1 sachet of saffron
• 1 tablespoon of pine nuts
• 2 tablespoons of raisins
• 1 fingertip of sun-dried tomato extract
• 1 teaspoon of sugar
• extra-virgin olive oil
• toasted almonds, chopped, to taste
Clean the fennel setting aside the most tender parts, then cook in plenty of salted water.
Once cooked, remove the fennel using a flat draining spoon and set aside the cooking water containing a few pieces of the vegetable. This will be used to cook the pasta.
Cut the fennel into small pieces, put the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion.
Once the onion is softened, add the fennel, saffron, carefully cleaned sardines, anchovies cut into small pieces, pine nuts and raisins.
Let cook for a few minutes and then add the tomato extract already diluted in a little water from cooking the fennel, add a little sugar and, if needed, a bit of salt.
Cook over low heat for twenty minutes. As all good grandmothers will teach, the pasta should be cooked in the water that the vegetable was cooked in and should be drained when just half cooked.
Afterwards, place the pasta in a pan alternating it with the sauce and let it cook over low heat to blend the flavours.
If you like, sprinkle with toasted, chopped almonds for a final touch. The combination of flavours, colours and aromas makes it a unique dish.