Caserecce with sardines

This dish reminds me of my trip to Sicily, where we would eat out every night at seaside restaurants ordering pasta with sardines or clams, sword fish and lots of other fresh seafood—heavenly! This is my recipe with hopes to have a little slice of Sicily at home. The toasted breadcrumbs add a beautiful texture contrasting with the rich tomato sugo.

- serves 4


  • 300g caserecci or other long dried pasta

  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cups (140g) fresh breadcrumbs

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped

  • 1 tub tomato paste

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped

  • 4 anchovies

  • 1/2 cup white wine

  • 12 fresh sardine fillets

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 handful of chopped parsley


  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of water.

  2. Meanwhile, add a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat, then add breadcrumbs and toss for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer crumbs to a bowl and wipe pan clean.

  3. Heat remaining oil in the pan over medium heat.

  4. Add onion and fennel, cook and stirring 3 minutes until translucent. Add tomato paste and tomatoes and cook for another few minutes.

  5. Add anchovies and cook until melted and combined. Add wine and bring to a simmer on low heat. Add sardine fillets and capsicum, then stir to combine.

  6. Add enough of the reserved cooking water to loosen the mixture. Cook and stir occasionally several minutes, until slightly reduced.

  7. Season with freshly ground pepper (no salt as the anchioves are salty enough already!), then toss sauce with the caserecci. To serve, scatter the toasted breadcrumbs over the pasta and top with chopped parsley.

Enjoy with a crisp Pinot Gris, or even a dry rosé. Buon appetito!