• Giovanni

Sardine Pasta recipe, Sicilian Style



It was seven in the morning and the temperature was fantastic in Trapani, my hometown. I woke up with the house flooded with the smell of freshly brewed coffee coming out from my mother’s kitchen. Just like a true Italian, she prepares our coffee with the traditional espresso machine every morning. What a perfect way to wake up to the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee.


I opened the window, the air was fresh and crispy before the sunrise. I heard the pulsing chirp of crickets started before the sun arises. A sign is that today would be a wonderful day. My mother Agnese was preparing breakfast in the kitchen. She was waiting for me while adding the locally produced millefiori honey to her coffee. With her age, she no longer uses sugar or artificial additives. I greeted her good morning (Buongiorno Mamma), her usual replies 'What would you like for breakfast?". I always had to be mindful of how to answer this question to an Italian mother. Never say that you are hungry, or you have a certain craving, or you will end up sitting down in the kitchen until lunch. My answer is always the same "Just coffee and it’s fine for me" and I would continue to ignore any other questions avoiding the morning overfeeding session.

On the kitchen table, I saw a basket full of biscuits. In Sicily we make more than 1000 different types of traditional biscuits. This morning was the inciminiati, an exceptionally good biscuits completely covered with sesame. Also known as the queen biscuits, light in taste and yet explosive sesame flavor which can be real addictive.


After breakfast, we decided to go to our regular fishmonger Mr Mariano. We walked through the fish shop stacked with lots of wooden boxes filled with any grace of God, Swordfish, Sicilian red prawns, fresh octopus, and live lobsters. The shop is fill with amazing Mediterranean seasonal fresh seafood. The smell of the sea from the fresh seafood made me wonder what I should have for lunch. Fish for the “poor” in the Mediterranean market caught my attention. The Sardines! There is no Sicilian who does not love pasta with sardines! This is a mouth-watering first course with an intense flavor.


Let us go together to discover the traditional recipe of

Sicilian Sardine Pasta

List of the ingredients you need for Sicilian Sardine Pasta are:

  • 1 bunch of wild fennels (chop them to your preferred size)

  • 300 g fresh sardines

  • 4 salted anchovies

  • 1 onion (chopped finely)

  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)

  • 30 g raisins

  • 25 g pine nuts

  • 1 sachet of saffron

  • Extra virgin olive oil (just the right amount)

  • Salt (to taste)

  • Pepper (to taste)

  • 100 ml fresh tomato sauce (optional)

  • Breadcrumbs


List of Equipment Needed:

  • Oven dish

  • Flat pan to stir-fry

  • Tall pan to boil the pasta


For pasta, a better choice for this recipe is Bucatini or Ziti for the more traditional approach. My father, Vincenzo, loved a type of pasta called daisies.


Usually, for this Sicilian recipe, we recommend about 320 g of pasta to serve four people. If you want to bring to the table the true culture of Sicily, better to be more abundant. Sicilians, as you know, are used to eat a lot and want to have generous portions in front of them!


Cooking Steps:

  • First, you need to arrange the sardines. In fact, this is the important as it requires the most attention. Remove the head, entrails, and center bone. Open each sardine completely like a book or butterfly style. If you think that you cannot clean the sardines in this way you can ask the fishmongers to help to have them already cleaned. This cleaning process is difficult as fresh Sardines' meat is very tender. I am sure that your friendly fishmonger is a pro on cleaning them and will be happy to get them ready and clean to be cook.

  • Before cooking, rinse the sardines under running tap water. Once they are clean, dab them with an absorbent kitchen towel to eliminate any excess water.