Spaghetti alle Sarde con Erbette

It may be surprising to know that I only recently discovered whole wheat pasta, this isn’t any new invention, and was widely on the market in Italy as well, but for some reason it never appealed to me. I’m not a white bread kind of girl, but for some reason I associated the taste of whole wheat pasta to school lunch sandwiches in elementary school on the days that the wonder bread that my sister and I requested ran out and we were stuck with wheat bread. I remember thinking my pb&j tasted fishy one day, all because of the bread. Totally juvenile to carry those whole wheat prejudices on into my thirties, considering the fact that I would never buy wonder bread now and love my pb&j on whole wheat. So why not whole wheat pasta? Who the hell knows.

It is wonderfully nutty, and pairs beautifully with delicate sauces and oddly enough with fish. Maybe it is my third grade association of whole wheat bread and fish, though I’m not too sure about that. I made a wonderful sauce of roasted fennel and tomatoes that I then sauteed with sardines and then tossed with a large handful of mint, parsley and fennel fronds. That nuttiness of the pasta really brought the flavors together, creating another layer that regular pasta wouldn’t have added, it would have only served as the platform for the sauce.

Spaghetti alle Sarde con Erbette

  • 1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 can of sardines packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 lb of whole wheat spaghetti
  • salt for pasta water
  • fennel fronds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint, chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400°. Wash tomatoes and fennel and cut the fennel into half moons, toss them on a baking sheet with 2 tbsps of extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast them for 10 to 15 minutes, until the fennel has browned and the tomatoes have shriveled.

Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Heat the rest of the oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add the roasted fennel and tomatoes, sautè for a few minutes until the tomato starts to break down into a sauce, squishing them with the back of a wooden spoon.

Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. You should add the sardines to the pan at this point.

When the pasta is perfectly al dente. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor.

Take the pan off of the heat and toss with chopped mint, parsley and fennel fronds. Serve immediately.

One Year Ago: Macaroni & Cheese, Gemelli with Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes, Insalata di Farro with Beets and Feta Cheese, & Apricot, & Fig and Pistachio Haroseth

~ by italicious on April 12, 2010.

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