This is a recipe I have eaten with small pieces of canned sardines on my trip around Sicily in Lo Vita da Capo in the northwest of the island.
I did not have any canned sardines - I thought I had, but I have a can of berberechos from Spain, which are cockles. So I used them. It did not really make a difference.
On the island you can find lots and lots of wild fennel and this is used in all the recipes. I can´t get any wild fennel here, so I used a bulb of fennel and looked for one with lots of fennel fonds.
There are even recipes on Sicily, where they have "pasta con sardine al mare", without using any kind of fish- the self ironic of people from poor families, who could not even afford the cheap sardines. The fish stayed "al mare"!
recipe for 2:
220 g spaghetti
1 bulb of fennel with lots of fennel fonds
3 spring onions
2 cloves of garlicd
30 g breadcrumbs
30 g raisins or cranberries
20 g pine nuts
1 pinch of saffron strings
lots of pasta water
salt and pepper
1 can cockles, drained
3 anchovis fillets
2 tbsp of olive oil
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
Chop fennel and fennel fonds and chop spring onions and garlic
drain the cockle can.
In a wide pan heat up the oil and start fennel pieces -without the fonds) and spring onion whites, it will take a bit of time to get soft.
Add the saffron and a bit of pasta water, cook a bit more and add the raisins.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper and chuck in the anchovis fillets and mush them until they are mostly gone.
Add pine nuts and breadcrumbs and more pasta water.
When the pasta is drained, add cockles and fennel fonds, stir and add the pasta with a bit more water.