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Since fresh sardines are often hard to find, we used mackerel for this delightful Variation on the Sicilian pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines). If you're in a hurry, however, you can revert to sardines--the canned kind. They're surprisingly good here.

How to Make It

Step 1

Put the raisins and the hot water in a small bowl and leave until the water is absorbed. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain the spaghetti.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Sprinkle the mackerel with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook the fish until just done, 2 to 3 minutes per side for 1/2-inch thick fillets. Remove the fish and then wipe out the pan. When the fish is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and flake the fish.

Step 3

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the raisins, mackerel, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Toss the mixture with the spaghetti, the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil, and the dill.

Step 4

Variation: Spaghetti with Sardines and Pine Nuts: In place of the mackerel, add two 3 1/2-ounce cans of boneless, skinless sardine fillets, drained, to the pan for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Break the fillets into flakes with a spoon.

Step 5

Wine Recommendation: The full-force flavors of this dish--from the sweet raisins and strong mackerel to the dill--need to be paired with a full-flavored, acidic white wine. Try a sauvignon blanc from northern Italy or New Zealand.

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