Spaghetti with sardines, fennel and raisins


  • Serves 4 people

"The sardine pasta dish at Sagra is delicious and a little different. Can you publish the recipe, please?"
Marcus Gayle, Palm Beach, NSW

To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email Please include the restaurant's name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.

  • 150 gm day-old crustless sourdough bread, coarsely torn
  • 3 garlic cloves, 1 bruised 2 finely chopped
  • 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 50 gm pine nuts
  • 1 small fennel bulb (fronds reserved), finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 6 butterflied sardines, pin-boned
  • 5 salted anchovies (see note)
  • 2 tbsp strattu (see note)
  • 50 gm raisins
  • 400 gm spaghetti
  • To serve: coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Pinch of fennel pollen (optional; see note)
01   Preheat oven to 180C. To make pangrattato, combine bread, bruised garlic and 50ml oil, season to taste and toss to combine. Spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake, shaking occasionally, until golden (4-5 minutes; discard garlic). When bread is cool enough to handle, pound in a mortar and pestle and set pangrattato aside.
02   Heat remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add pine nuts and stir occasionally until golden (3-4 minutes). Add chopped garlic, fennel, onion and saffron, and stir occasionally until fennel and onion are tender (10-12 minutes; add a splash of water if sticking). Add wine, sardines, anchovies and strattu, and simmer until oil separates from sauce (5-6 minutes). Add raisins and reduce heat to low.
03   Cook spaghetti in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just undercooked (3-4 minutes), then drain, reserving 250ml water. Add spaghetti to sardine sauce with about 200ml pasta water, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until pasta is al dente (3-4 minutes). Season to taste, adjust consistency with extra pasta water if it’s a little dry (you’re after a light sauce consistency) and serve hot scattered with pangrattato, parsley, fennel pollen and finely chopped fennel fronds.

Note Salted anchovies are available from select grocers and delicatessens. Strattu is a concentrated tomato paste available from select Italian grocers and delicatessens. Fennel pollen is available from select delicatessens and Waimea Trading. If it's unavailable substitute toasted ground fennel seeds. 

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