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A Simply Sicilian Spaghetti alla Sardine Sauce


Sicily - Strait of MessinaSicily, Home of Mediterranean Food And….

Home of Simply Sicilian Spaghetti alla Sardines Sauce

I am transformed sitting here writing this article on Sicilian cooking. Hungry here now, but even hungrier a month ago sitting in an Italian trattoria dreaming of Sicily. Ah, bellissima Sicily, imagining a meal overlooking the blue Mediterranean. But on a rainy and crisp Spring night in Bologna, Italy it was still magic: the atmosphere, the smells, the feel, the beauty of seeing the neighborhood clientele dive in on a weeknight to their local restaurant to enjoy some real home cooking. It was pure luck that I discovered this trattoria gem. After looking through the window I had peeked my head in the door and the affable owner welcomed me in with a smile and served me a glass of wine. How could I refuse a meal? Everything on the hand-written menu was Sicilian. This simple spaghetti with sardine sauce was my primo piatto that night.

Healthy and Deliciously Simple to Make

This dish has canned sardines, which are full packed with nutrient dense cancer fighting and cholesterol lowering essential omega 3 fatty acids, along with calcium and red blood cell boosting Vitamin B-12. The bones in canned sardines are digestible and full of calcium so use these canned sardines as a whole piece, bones included! Don’t worry, they are soft and you won’t choke on the bones. Canned sardines are a versatile perfect food to have in the pantry. Mixed with spaghetti or just opened up and eaten as a protein during  a main meal, these are a must to have around.

Don’t overcook the spaghetti, pasta should be cooked al dente for the most health benefits on taste and glycemic index. This recipe was adapted from my all time favorite cookbook , “The New Basics Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lutkins. Serve this dish as a first course as they do in Italy or as a main course with a green salad to follow. Normally you wouldn’t serve grated Parmesan cheese with this dish or other Italian pasta fish dishes, but this is also a matter of taste and feel free to add Parmesan if you like.

Buon Appetito.

A Simply Sicilian Spaghetti alla Sardine Sauce

Serves 6
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Allergy Fish
Meal type Main Dish, Starter
Misc Serve Hot
Region Italian
From book The New Basics Cookbook
Transform yourself to a beach on Sicily with this Mediterranean healthy and simple recipe for sardines and spaghetti. Eating healthy never tasted so good!


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably Italian olive oil)
  • 1 Large onion, cut into julienne
  • 12oz spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup raisins (preferably golden)
  • 1 can sardines, in olive oil (4 1/2 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 sprinkle cayenne pepper


A simple Mediterranean dish that goes very well with a light and fruity white wine. This recipe calls for canned sardines but you can use fresh cooked sardines in substitution. If you can only find canned sardines in water, drain sardines first.


Step 1
Heat oil in a very large skillet. Use a skillet big enough to put in cooked pasta at the end.
Step 2
Sauté onion in olive oil until transparent, approximately 5 minutes.
Step 3
In the meantime, heat a large pot of salted water to boil and add spaghetti. Cook pasta until al dente. (While water is heating up, continue with next steps)
Step 4
Add raisins to the skillet and cook onion-raisin mixture 5 minutes more on low heat.
Step 5
Remove skillet from heat and prepare sardines.
Step 6
Open the cans of sardines reserving the olive oil.
Step 7
Chop sardines into 1/4" pieces and add them to skillet with reserved olive oil, sprinkle of cayenne pepper and juice from half a lemon.
Step 8
Drain the spaghetti and add immediately to sardines in skillet, mixing thoroughly.
Step 9
Sprinkle parsley on dish and serve immediately.

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12 Responses to A Simply Sicilian Spaghetti alla Sardine Sauce

  1. Julieane December 9, 2014 at 08:24 #

    This is awesome! I tried it a while ago with my spaghetti. I really liked it. Very appetizing.

  2. Ali, Wild Planet Foods May 30, 2012 at 18:16 #

    This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it out 🙂

    • mbrighton May 31, 2012 at 09:15 #

      Let me know how you like it! Bon Appetit

  3. EA-The Spicy RD May 23, 2012 at 06:31 #

    Youve absolutely made me want to go to Sicily! Love the simple ingredients in this dish, and I can imagine the raisins add a nice hint of sweetness. Delicious!

    • mbrighton May 23, 2012 at 09:25 #

      Thanks EA! Sicily is a gorgeous place to visit and EAT! Bella giornata (have a good day).

  4. Michele Redmond May 22, 2012 at 19:56 #

    Hey Mary,
    I just made Sardine butter this weekend; now I’m thinking I’ll use the left over for the pasta dish. It’s not olive oil, but I’ll try that next time. I like to use sardines or anchovies, lemons, olive oil, capers, parsley and red chili flakes for a simple fast pasta dish. The raisins in your recipe are a fun touch.

    • mbrighton May 23, 2012 at 09:30 #

      Hi Michele, raisins do add the fun touch. I love the subtle mix of salty and sweet. Plus, the raisins add a touch for the presentation. I am pretty sure raisins are typically put in Sicilian recipes or some other type of dried fruit. It is yum….! Buongiorno!

  5. Danielle Omar - Food Confidence RD May 22, 2012 at 03:12 #

    Looks delicious….and what a clean, easy way to enjoy your food. Love it!

    • mbrighton May 22, 2012 at 12:48 #

      Grazie Danielle, I need simple, easy and the best part is it is delish and healthy!


  1. Mary Brighton - November 24, 2012

    Today is official sardine day. What better way to celebrate but with an easy Italian dish? Buon Appetito!

  2. Wild Planet Foods - May 30, 2012

    A Simply Sicilian Spaghetti alla Sardine Sauce Recipe!

  3. Deanna Segrave-Daly - May 22, 2012

    Dreaming of Taormina via @BrightonHealth 's Sicilian Spaghetti ala Sardine Sauce: #reciperedux

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