Courtesy Michael Vincent Ferreri, executive chef, Res Ipsa Cafe, Philadelphia
For a dish to receive prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (PAT) status, says Ferreri, owner of Philadelphia’s charming Res Ipsa Cafe, it has to have certain ingredients prepared in a certain way. “Pasta con le Sarde is one of the only [PAT] pastas —it’s the national dish of Sicily,” he says. “It’s a fun way for us to really showcase what we do, which is almost entirely seafood.”
- Pinch of saffron
- ¾ pound fresh sardines, 5-inches each (about 3–4), cleaned, boned, heads removed and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 pound bucatini
- Canola oil
- 1 large head fennel, white part and stalk diced, fronds chopped and reserved
- 1 cup golden raisins
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup pine nuts, toasted
- Juice of 1 medium orange
In medium-sized pot over medium heat, add saffron to 1 quart water. Warm until saffron begins to release its color. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, marinate sardine pieces with ⅓ tablespoon chopped garlic, one-third of parsley and just enough olive oil to coat sardines. This can be prepared 1 day in advance.
In large pot, boil fresh water and cook pasta until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and pour pasta onto sheet pan to prevent sticking or clumping. Drizzle with olive oil and let cool.
In sauté pan large enough to accommodate pasta (two pans may be used, if necessary), coat surface with 2:1 ratio of olive and canola oil. Over medium-high heat, add sardines and sear, about 1–2 minutes. Add remaining garlic, fennel, raisins and salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until it just starts to brown but fennel maintains crunch.
Add pine nuts and half of remaining parsley. Use orange juice to deglaze pan, scraping up any brown bits with wooden spoon. Once juice has cooked down, about 1 minute, add pasta and saffron water. Cook about 3 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to desired doneness and ingredients emulsify into sauce.
Add fennel fronds and remaining parsley. Serve in warmed bowls. Serves 6.
Graffetta 2017 Grillo (Sicilia). Aromas suggesting crushed tomato leaf, citrus and exotic fruit leap out of the glass. On the medium-bodied palate, tangy acidity perks up juicy grapefruit, white peach and pineapple packed in syrup.