Pasta with Sardines, Bread Crumbs and Capers

Stirrin' It Up: Pasta with Sardines, Bread Crumbs and Capers (Oct. 24, 2017)

Air Date: October 24, 2017. Source: Chef John Folse

Prep Time: 45 Minutes

Yields: 4–6 Servings


This is a traditional Sicilian recipe usually made for the feast of St. Joseph. The bread crumbs symbolize sawdust to remind us of St. Joseph's status as a poor carpenter.


1 pound long pasta (such as perciatelli), uncooked

2 (3.75-ounce) cans sardines (approximately ½ pound), packed in extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup bread crumbs, ideally made from stale bread

2 tbsps drained capers

salt to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 onion, peeled and chopped

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tsp grated lemon zest

½ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. When it’s hot, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, 3–4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining oil and onion to the pan and cook 5–7 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, add pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and set aside. Increase heat of skillet to medium-high and add lemon zest, capers and sardines with oil. Cook until just heated through, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked pasta to sardine mixture and toss well to combine. Add ½ cup chopped parsley, most of the bread crumbs and some reserved cooking liquid, if necessary, to moisten. Adjust seasonings to taste and garnish with more parsley and bread crumbs.