• (Alan Benson)

Big, bold and beautifully textured, this is an Italian pasta recipe for lovers of seafood. Don’t be put off by the sardines and anchovies – they soften in flavour as they cook and provide a lovely back note to the spices and herbs.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (24 votes)


  • 500 g short pasta
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 80 g fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 2 fennel bulbs and tops, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 500 g sardine fillets
  • 1 tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water
  • 50 g currants
  • 50 g pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn
  • ½ cup mint leaves, torn

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to packet directions.

Meanwhile, place a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, for 4–5 minutes, until golden. Drain on paper towel and season to taste.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the anchovies and cook until broken down and dissolved. Add the fennel and onion, and cook for 3­–4 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Stir in the dried spices and cook for 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the sardines, saffron and water, currants and pine nuts.  Cook, stirring to roughly break up the sardines, for 5 minutes, until the sardines are cooked. Add a ladle of the pasta cooking water to make a loose sauce and simmer for 1 minute.

Drain pasta and add to the sauce with most of the breadcrumbs, parsley and mint. Season to taste and toss to combine.

Serve in shallow bowls topped with remaining breadcrumbs and herbs.


Photography by Alan Benson