Pasta with sardines and onions

Pasta with sardines and onions

Bigoli in salsa

By
From
Venice
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

This is an unbelievably tasty dish made from just three main ingredients. The softened onions and fish form a creamy sauce to coat the pasta, which is incredibly moreish. This dish was typically eaten in Venetian households on Fridays during Lent, as in the past meat was banned. It is popular at all times now and also forms part of a grand fish feast on Christmas Eve in many homes. Use anchovies if you can’t find sardines.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large brown onions, finely chopped
1 small bay leaf, (optional)
360g bigoli or spaghetti
240g tinned salted sardines
or 60g tinned anchovy fillets, in salt or oil
4 tablespoons white wine
salt
freshly ground black pepper
handful parsley, finely chopped, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and bay leaf, if using, and turn the heat to low. Cook slowly for around 15 minutes until soft, shaking and stirring the pan frequently with a wooden spoon. Rinse the fish in cold water if they are in salt; if they are in oil don’t worry. Bring to the boil a large pot of well-salted water, add the pasta and cook for 8–10 minutes or until al dente. Meanwhile, put the sardines in with the onions and break up the fish with a wooden spoon until they blend with the onions. Add the white wine to the fish and onions and allow the alcohol to evaporate for a couple of minutes. Season with pepper and taste, only add salt if necessary. Take a couple of ladlefuls of the water from the pot of pasta and reserve in a jug. Drain the pasta and add to the fish mixture with a little of the cooking water as necessary to create a sauce. Toss through and serve with a sprinkling of parsley if using.

A note on Parmesan:

  • I have made Venetians gasp in horror as they rarely put fish and cheese together, but a sprinkling of finely grated Parmesan is gorgeous on this dish.
Tags:
Venice
Giancarlo
Katie
Caldesi
Venetian
Italian
European
Mediterranean
Italy
Europe
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