Read It in: Italian

Pasta with sardines, typical dish of the Sicilian tradition, is included in the list of Traditional Agro-Food Products (P.A.T.) of the Ministry of Agricultural Food and Forestry Policy (Mipaaf).

Origins

It is said that pasta with sardines has ancient origins and was prepared for the first time by the Arab chef Eufemio from Messina, commander of the Byzantine fleet, between the Byzantine and Arab domination, around the year 800.

Eufemio from Messina, hostile to Byzantine domination, tried to drive out the invaders leading some rebels, but was arrested and exiled on the pretext of having loved a nun and trying to persuade her to abandon her vows. Eufemio took refuge in Africa where he allied himself with the Saracens and guided them, in a spirit of vengeance, towards Sicily

Just when the fleet, exhausted, was in Mazara del Vallo,  precisely in Capo Granitola, our chef entered the scene. After feeding the men of the ship with few ingredients available, thanks to his inspiration, he created a dish with what the nature of the place offered him. He prepared pasta with sardines, not exactly fresh at that time, combined with wild fennel to cover the strong taste of fish, saffron, provided by the Arabs themselves, and finally pine nuts, to avoid any form of intoxication. The result was a simple and good dish at the same time, among the most appreciated over the centuries in Sicily. The Eufemio dish is still considered, today, as the first “sea-mounts” dish of history.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 400 g of pasta
  • 800 g of fresh sardines
  • 4 salted sardines
  • 2 onion
  • 50 g wet raisins
  • 1 Kg wild fennel
  • 2 little bags of saffron
  • 30 g of pine nuts
  • 2 table spoons of tomato sauce
  • 100 g toasted breadcrumbs
  • Evo oil (as necessary)
  • Salt (as necessary)

Procedure

Clean the fennel, boil it, drain it and break it into pieces (keep aside the cooking water).

Fry the onions with the oil, the salted sardines, the raisins, the pine nuts and cook over a low heat in a pan with high edges. Add two tablespoons of sauce, fennel and sardines diliscate and deboned. Mix with a spoon to chop the sardines.

When cooked, add a sachet of saffron dissolved in warm and salted water as desired.

Boil the pasta until is al dente in the cooking water of fennel, in which you have melted the other sachet of saffron. After draining, add it to the rest and dust it with breadcrumbs and serve it.

picture of pasta with sardines