This is my family’s take on the classic Sardinian delicacy, featuring sustainably-sourced Wild Planet sardines from the California coastline. The sweet-savory blend of fish, saffron, currants and pine nuts suggests a sophistication that hides the fact that this dish takes fewer than 15 minutes to make.
1 lb dry Buccatini (or Edison Quinoa Penne for a delicious gluten-free option)
1 medium fennel bulb, diced, with fronds removed and reserved for garnish
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 T tomato paste
1/2 C pine nuts
1/4 C currants
A pinch of saffron threads
1 package of Wild Planet sardines in oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water for the pasta first, with a goal of having the sauce ready just before you drain it.
While the water warms, sauté the fennel and onion in the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until brown and tender. Reduce the heat to low and add all the other ingredients, adding more olive oil if things are drying out too much. (Don’t forget to cook the pasta once the water comes to a boil.) Using a wooden spoon, mash up the sardines and mix everything together in the skillet to coat the fennel and onions.
When the pasta is nice and al dente, drain (but do not rinse) then add to the skillet and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve in shallow bowls with a garnish of fennel fronds and without parmesan cheese.