I often hear chefs saying that fish and pasta do not really work together. Well in this case, they most certainly do, particularly with a little Sicilian influence from the fennel, pine kernels and raisins!
400 g fresh fennel herb (or the tops of Florence fennel)
3 shallots, finely chopped
good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons pine kernels
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
400 g fresh sardines, gutted and filleted
a little plain flour
2 medium eggs, beaten
a little cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
sea salt and black pepper
400 g thick spaghetti
Unusually begin this dish by bringing the pasta water to the boil. Add the fennel herb and allow to cook until soft which should be 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and place in cold water.
Peel and dice the shallots and fry gently in olive oil for a few minutes to gain a little colour but not too brown! Add the pine kernels and raisins and fry for a further 2 minutes before adding a good splash of white wine to moisten the sauce. Chop the part cooked fennel and add with the anchovy fillets. Allow to cook gently.
Meanwhile coat the sardines in flour and beaten egg before frying in a separate pan until a beautiful golden colour! Roughly chop half the crispy and golden sardines and add to the sauce, and continue cooking over a very low heat for 20 minutes.
Now pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Bring the fennel water back up to the boil and cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and then mix well with the sauce. Transfer the whole dish into a warm oven dish, lay the rest of the sardine fillets on top, sprinkle with a little salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and the toasted almonds.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and bring to the table serving immediately!
This is a wonderful supper dish, healthy and delicious, particularly at this time of the year with sardines in tip top condition!