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Pasta with sardines: the complete guide approved by Montalbano
Pasta with sardines: the complete guide approved by Montalbano
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The Inspector Montalbano grants an encore. First episode of the new series, A delicate matter, and first record with 10 million 862 thousand spectators. Second episode, The mud pyramid, and another record for the RaiUno fiction born from the stories of Andrea Camilleri with Luca Zingaretti: 40.95% share (with 10 million 333 thousand spectators).

Virtually half of Italy glued to the video to see the last episode of the series, which has just begun and, in fact, has already ended.

So, to console seduced and abandoned fans (but there are reruns), today we talk about pasta with sardines, a dish that in this period of Lent conquers the tables of the island every (holy) Friday.

Let's put it this way: the religious rule that aims at deprivation ends up stimulating the Sicilian love of food a little known. Including the most Sicilian of all: Montalbano, in fact.

From The terracotta dog by Andrea Camilleri

“The next morning he had the pleasure of seeing Adelina, the chambermaid again.

"Why didn't you show up these days?".

"Ca pirchì? Ca pirchì a la signurina we don't like you to see me home home when there is iddra ".

"How did you know that Livia had left?".

“Lu seppi in paisi”.

Everyone in Vigàta knew everything about everyone.

"What have you accused me of?".

“I make pasta with Sardinians and pi secunnu purpi alla carrettera”.

Delicious, but deadly. Montalbano hugged her .

PASTA WITH SARDINES: RECIPE AND VARIATIONS

The origin is Palermo. But as often happens in traditional recipes, the preparation varies from landing to landing, the discussions are endless, even the accusations of culinary distortions.

In Palermo itself, the dish, strictly white, changes a lot. One version leaves the crumb out, another deletes the passage in the oven. But the most controversial variant is the addition of tomato sauce (common in Ennese) or even tomato paste, guilty of giving the pasta its unpleasant sweet taste.

In any case, to prepare a good pasta with sardines you need:

two bunches of wild fennel, half a kilo of sardines, 400 gr of pasta

About 30 grams of raisins, About 30 grams of pine nuts, an onion, crumb to taste

toasted almonds

Wild fennel
Wild fennel
Sardine
Sardine

Clean and boil the fennel. Then drain it and cut it with a large knife.

Chop the onion and fry it, then add the boiled fennel.

Pasta with sardines - ingredients
Pasta with sardines - ingredients

Separately, chop the remaining onion and fry it in abundant oil, adding the previously boned and cleaned sardines.

Finally, add raisins, pine nuts and fennel, adding a few tablespoons of the cooking broth.

Sardines
Sardines
Pasta with sardines - Condiment
Pasta with sardines - Condiment

Meanwhile, toast the breadcrumbs in a small pan. Boil the pasta in the same water in which the fennel were boiled, drain it al dente and season with the sauce.

The traditional recipe calls for a long pasta, bucatini or spaghetti, for the baked version a short format is preferable, such as celery or penne.

Pasta with sardines
Pasta with sardines

Finally, sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the chopped and toasted almonds on the plate. Many recipes include salted anchovies to be flaked in hot oil before the fennel.

PASTA WITH SARDINES AT THE SEA

Therefore, among the inevitable ingredients there is wild fennel, which in Sicily is sold on street corners by street vendors, raisins, onions and pine nuts and sardines.

Wild fennel
Wild fennel
Sardines at the market
Sardines at the market

But there is a recipe for pasta with sardines that even excludes … sardines.

Is called pasta with sea sardines, designed for those who could not afford to buy sardines. A pasta so poor that the sardines remain, in fact, at sea, with all due respect to all.

It is no coincidence that in Sicily, a land of strong contradictions, the poorest recipe is proposed in an elaborate version in the refined cuisine of Peppe Bonsignore, chef of the restaurant "L’Oste e il Sacrestano", in Licata, in the province of Agrigento.

Pasta with sardines in the sea - Innkeeper and the sacristan
Pasta with sardines in the sea - Innkeeper and the sacristan

A crunchy dish given the softened crumb (toasted) and fried in oil with garlic, parsley, chilli, and the addition of pieces of bread crust.

The recipe does not include sardines but salted anchovies, dehydrated tomatoes and mullets.

WHERE TO EAT PASTA WITH SARDINES

DON CICCIO - BAGHERIA (PA)

Trattoria Don Ciccio - Bagheria
Trattoria Don Ciccio - Bagheria

“Don Ciccio” in Bagheria is the Sicilian trattoria par excellence, so typical that the nearby starred restaurant “I Pupi” has dedicated a dish to it in its tasting menu.

Medium sized room, rectangular or square tables and red and white checkered tablecloths. The service is casual, friendly and cheerful, never forced.

Upon entering you cannot escape the sight of customers, groups of friends or middle-aged couples, equipped with a special disposable bib provided by the waiters who also take care of gagging.

Pasta with sardines - Don Ciccio Bagheria
Pasta with sardines - Don Ciccio Bagheria

The particular announces long and juicy pasta.

In fact, Don Ciccio always and only serves bucatini in all sauces, just after a 'welcome from the house' consisting of a hard-boiled egg accompanied by a glass of zibibbo.

Trattoria Don Ciccio - Appetizer
Trattoria Don Ciccio - Appetizer

Contrary to what one might think, here the pasta with sardines is not served in white, as per Palermo tradition, but with tomato concentrate in the right measure.

You will have the pleasure of continuing to eat (not savor, just eat) the sauce despite having finished the pasta, due to its abundance.

TRattoria Don Ciccio - Pasta with sardines
TRattoria Don Ciccio - Pasta with sardines

After lunch, a few steps from the restaurant, you can see the monstrous statues of Villa Palagonia and walk along the central Corso Umberto, listening to the sounds of the city (you will feel like you are in the Baaria di Tornatore).

'ZA PEPPINA - SANT'AGATA DI MILITELLO (ME)

A less full-bodied version of the one proposed in Bagheria, made with spaghetti, is eaten at "za Peppina" in Sant’Agata di Militello, another famous trattoria on the very windy promenade of one of the towns overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello - Pasta with sardines
Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello - Pasta with sardines

Small and simple restaurant with a veranda embellished with Santo Stefano di Camastra ceramics.

In winter, nostalgics of Sicilian politics easily meet, distinguished gentlemen in groups of three or four who, between regrets and hasty philosophy, will die Christian Democrats.

Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello - Pasta with sardines
Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello - Pasta with sardines

At the tables, the service is entrusted to the middle-aged daughter, with a typically Mediterranean and Spanish look.

Flower on the head, erect and framed in the clothing, without a fold out of place, alternating abrupt genuineness with set gentleness, but still delicious to observe.

Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello
Za Peppina - S. Agata di Militello

At Aunt Peppina it will be difficult to sin on Friday in Lent, the menu in fact includes a lot of grilled fish. Skip the anachronistic seafood appetizer that will take you straight back to the eighties with the prawn cocktail.

ANDREA MACCA (DONNA CARMELA) AND PASTA WITH SARDINES ALL’UCCELLETTO DI BECCAFICO

We turn the page, we change city and environment, in search of a more refined style. If you fancy an elegant version of the dish, Donna Carmela's Andrea Macca offers pasta with sardines all’uccelletto di beccafico.

The chef thus combines two ultra-classics of Sicilian cuisine of poor fish.

Pasta with sardines - Donna Carmela - Chef Andrea Macca
Pasta with sardines - Donna Carmela - Chef Andrea Macca

White recipe with the little bird placed on the pasta, a detail of great impact. In a single context it is thus possible to represent the scene of the little bird pecking the fig tree (hence the typical sardines a beccafico), and to tell the story of the Sicilian barons who delighted with the delicious dish of the stuffed bird, emulated by the poor who could only afford to cook a stuffed sardine with a fried meatball.

It may be for this reason that in Sicily the Sardinian term jokingly indicates the situation of those who do not even have a penny in their pocket.

As Montalbano knows well the Sardinian in this case, despite being in the pocket, it is as if it had remained at sea.

INFORMATION

Trattoria Don Ciccio

Via del Cavaliere, 87, 90011 Bagheria PA

Telephone: 091 932442

Trattoria Za Peppina

Via Enrico Cosenz, 197, Sant’Agata di Militello ME

Telephone: 0941 702723

Donna Carmela

Contrada Grotte, 5, Carruba, Riposto CT

Telephone: 095 809383

The Host and the Sacristan

Via Sant’Andrea, 19, 92027 Licata AG

Telephone: 0922 774736

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