November 22, 2017

Scenario: Sicily, it’s snowing, sexy date says yes to dinner at your place.


Or you’re in New York and it’s snowing in October.  Your lovely wife says yes to a snowed in dinner date after the kid goes to sleep and you start thinking.

You frantically yet coolly survey the kitchen pantry.  Take a beat, then slow down and think.  It’s cold out. A hot dish would be best.  Nothing too heavy so she, or you, won’t conk out by 9pm on the couch.  Something with some spice and a bit exotic. In the pantry I see a tin of skinless, boneless sardines packed in olive oil and a box of pasta.  In the fridge we have fennel, a lemon, parsley, garlic cloves and anchovies in oil.  In Sicily this classic pasta with sardines dish would also have raisins and Pignoli nuts but for tonight we go with what we have.

Pasta con le sarde will be tonight’s dinner.  It’s perfect on many fronts.

  • It’s a twelve minute dish.  The time it takes to cook the pasta and prep the room temperature sauce.
  • One pot for pasta and one large pasta bowl for final dish. Less mess and less time wasted on clean up.
  • A light and spicy dish to stir up the romance.  Enough said.


  • 1 box favorite pasta.  Such as Spaghetti, Bucatini, Gemelli.
  • 1 can boneless and skinless sardines packed in olive oil.
  • 3 small anchovies packed in oil.  Or anchovies packed in seas salt, rinsed and dried.
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped or thinly sliced.
  • 1/2 bunch parsley chopped.
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fennel or 2 teaspoons dry fennel pollen or seed.  Dry powdered anise will work too.
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more. It’s up to you.
  • Red pepper flake to taste
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • Salt and boil water for pasta.  Cook according to directions.
  • In large pasta bowl mix together all remaining ingredients while the pasta cooks.  Use a large fork to break up sardines and anchovies.
  • Use Spider (large slotted spoon) or a colander to transfer cooked pasta to large pasta bowl.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water and add to final dish as needed to create a just moistened sauce.

Place bowl between you, pour some wine or beer and get to it.  It’s a great dish and so easy to do.  For dessert we had scoops of chocolate ice cream with a shot of Amaretto poured over it.  Our last minute date was a hit.

Try this dish and let us know how it went.

Nice additions to this dish are: Pignoli nuts, raisins, currants, capers, slivered red onions.