Friday, March 18, 2016

Pasta Con Le Sarde Recipe- Sicilian Pasta with Sardines and Wild Fennel- Paleo and Cheapskate Versions

In many ways I like to think I'm a creative cook, but there are some flavors that I would never dream of pairing together- I don't come up with creative flavor combinations, and am often afraid of experimenting with new flavor combinations, because what if it comes out bad.
However, I like learning about cuisines from different countries and when I try out international recipes, often they're with combinations of flavors that are so different and unusual for me, but wonderful.

This recipe, pasta con le sarde, is a traditional Sicilian recipe that I discovered when trying to figure out what to do with my abundant supply of wild fennel. Pasta with wild fennel I was already familiar with, though I typically made it with meat, and I knew wild fennel tasted good with fish, but the combination of all three, together with raisins and white wine? Now that was a new one, and sounded really strange to me at first, but I decided to give it a try first before writing it off.

And it really was wonderful- tasted great, looked pretty, wasn't too difficult to make, and was Paleo. Of course you can make it the standard way- with pasta instead of spiralized zucchini- and bread crumbs instead of almond meal- but it tasted wonderful paleo and was very satisfying. The original recipe called for a combination of currants and raisins but I stuck with raisins because they're cheaper and I also had them at home already, bought in bulk, and it called for saffron which I left out because of the cost, and I subbed pine nuts with cashews since I didn't have any foraged pine nuts on hand and cashews are cheaper than pine nuts when bought.

I highly recommend this recipe to anyone. Anyone that doesn't hate fish, anise flavor, or cooked fruit in savory dishes, that is. While this calls for sardines, I am sure it would be just as wonderful with tuna instead of sardines. And if you don't have anchovies you can leave them out.

If you don't have wild fennel, you can use fennel fronds from store bought fennel.

Pasta Con Le Sarde Recipe- Sicilian Pasta with Sardines and Wild Fennel- Paleo and Cheapskate Versions

1/2 cup raisins (yellow or black)
300 grams/10.5 oz/1 giant bunch fennel fronds
3 lbs/4 large zucchini or 1 pack spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cans sardines (or tuna)
1 can anchovies (or leave out)
2 small tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cashews/pine nuts (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder/1-2 cloves fresh garlic
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
Ground almonds/breadcrumbs- optional

1. Soak raisins in boiling water to soften.

2. Spiralize your zucchini and mix with 1 teaspoon salt until softened, then squeeze out the excess liquid. Alternatively, boil up a package of spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair pasta.

3. Boil the wild fennel in salted water for 10 minutes, then strain and chop up.

4. Chop the onion and garlic and saute in olive oil.

5. Chop up the tomatoes, and then add everything else other than the spiralized zucchini/spaghetti, and cook for 20 minutes on a low heat, or until the tomatoes are fully soft.

6. Add the pasta/zoodles, top with bread crumbs/almond meal as a garnish.


Ever hear of pasta con le sarde before? Does the combination of flavors seem odd to you or typical? Does this seem like a recipe you'd try?

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