Think of this dish like a two-step process.  Step one is preparing your ingredients and step two is the actual assembly of the dish as you build your sauce.  One of the best things about this recipe is that, once you prep your ingredients, the pasta dish can be completed in about 10 - 11 minutes.  Lastly, make sure to source your sardines from a reputable vendor and call ahead since most places will not have sardines on hand daily.

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Serves 4 - 6

2 Tbls currants
½ cup white wine (preferably the same wine you plan to pair with the meal)
2 bunches fennel
1 onion (fine dice)
4 anchovy fillets (washed)
5 sardines (fillet and boned)
3 Tbls pine nuts
Saffron (10 - 14 threads chopped)
1 lb. Perciatelli pasta
1 ounce breadcrumbs
1 ounce almond slivers
3 Tbls butter
½ cup olive oil (more for dressing the plate upon completion)
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1

About an hour before starting, begin soaking the currants in the white wine.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a sauté pan, toast your pine nuts and almonds separately with 1 Tbls of butter each.  Once slightly toasted, move them to a paper towel to drain.  Also toast the breadcrumbs in butter.  Once toasted, save these items for the final preparation.

Prepare an ice bath.  Clean and quarter the fennel, then slice it about the size of matchsticks.  Blanch the fennel in the boiling water for about seven minutes.  Then remove and place into the ice bath. (Save the blanching water to cook the pasta.)

Remove the fennel from the ice bath and drain.  Once dried, cut the fennel into a small dice.

Step 2

Add the pasta to the boiling water and set your timer one minute short of the packaging recommendation.

In a large sauté pan or saucier, heat 4 Tbls of olive oil.  Add the onions and fennel, and sweat over medium heat for five minutes.  They should take on some color.  Add the anchovies and cook until they dissolve.

Move the mix of onions and fennel to the sides of the pan and add the sardines.  Cook until they begin the break apart, and then add the currants, white wine, pine nuts and saffron.  Stir the contents of the pan together.  Taste, season with salt and pepper, and allow it to simmer as the pasta finishes cooking.

Once the pasta is done, move it to the sauté pan (reserve the pasta water) and toss with the sardine mixture, adding enough of the pasta water to create a slightly saucy consistency.

Plate into warmed bowls.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then toasted almonds.  Clean the rim of the bowls and serve.

Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Le Vaglia 2007
A luminescent white gold in the glass, with a bouquet of citrus fruit, lemon curd, orange blossom, and an earthiness that was sometimes fresh-cut grass, and other times green olive.

Hauner Bianco (Catarratto/Inzolia) Salina IGT 2008
Semi-sweet and rich on the palate, but with wonderful finesse showing grapefruit, figs, and earth, with a nice, fresh finish.