Pasta with sardines, pine nuts and prunes

If that’s not alliterative for you, change to ‘Pescatorial pasta with pine nuts and prunes’

We used to buy a lot of tinned tuna here in Geneva because it’s so much cheaper than fresh fish. We’d get the posh tins from Globus. But I wondered recently why sardines might not be at least as good and a whole lot cheaper. Tinned, that is. The kind of recipe that follows is normally prescribed for fresh sardines but they are expensive here too.

Ingredients for two

  • can of sardines in olive oil
  • a couple of shallots peeled and chopped
  • some fresh fennel bulb: discard outer coarse layer and very finely shave what’s left
  • some garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 chilli washed and chopped
  • a handful of pine nuts toasted in a dry pan
  • some soft prunes – those packets last for ages in the fridge – chopped
  • parsley off the stem and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


While the pasta is cooking, drain the olive oil from the sardines and heat. Gently fry the shallots, fennel, garlic and chilli until shallots are softened. Stir in the sardines and chopped prunes, breaking up the sardines as you do so.

Let that sit on low heat until the pasta is cooked. Drain it and toss it through the sauce, adding most of the parsley and pine nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Serve on plates and top with the last of the parsley and pine nuts.

For next time: I like to try the basic idea before getting fancy. Next time I would add more fennel, it was too subtle today. White wine may add some good depth of flavour that would contrast well with the fish.

Some people add saffron to this dish, but that’s if it’s made with fresh sardines. Tinned, they are too strong for this subtle flavouring. Save the saffron for something else.

I don’t see cheese, grated or even shaved adding to this dish.

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