After returning from language school in Taormina, Sicily, my sister continued to crave Sicilian food. She discovered a recipe for Sicilian Pasta with Sardines that was so good she ate it for dinner, and then for breakfast and lunch the next day.
Pasta with Sardines is one of Sicily’s classic dishes, and there are countless recipes for it. In The Flavors of Sicily, Anna Tasca Lanza refers to it as “the national dish of Sicily.” Lanza, the owner of Sicily’s Regaleali winery and Sicilian food expert, says Pasta with Sardines and Fennel contains all the classic elements of Sicilian food: “fennel from the earth, fish from the sea, pine nuts from the trees, dried currants from the vine, … and that most Sicilian of ingredients, pasta.”
Some versions of the dish contain saffron, some use tomato sauce, and others augment the sardines with anchovies. The two constants are sardines and fennel.
Pasta with Sardines and Fennel is a simple recipe, made primarily with pantry staples. I will happily make it over and over again.