Italian culture is full of timeless customs and traditions, and one of the most popular is the Feast of Santa Rosalia. Rosalia lived a short life during the 12th century and was revered by the people of Palermo for her role in fighting the plague in 1624. The Feast of Santa Rosalia takes place every year from July 10 through July 15, and as with most Italian festivals, it has its own unique gastronomic traditions.

Traditional dishes like la pasta chî sardi (pasta with sardines), babbaluci (boiled snails with garlic and parsley), pullanca (boiled panicle), and detto ‘u muluni (also known as watermelon) are staple delights at the Feast of Santa Rosalia. The good news is that you don’t have to plan on celebrating the Feast of Santa Rosalia to enjoy the Italian specialties yourself.  This Pasta with Sardines and Lemon recipe from Bon Appetit is just what you’ll need to add another simple, elegant Italian meal to your summer cooking.

Pasta with Sardines and Lemon


2 4-ounce cans smoked whole sardines

12 ounces linguine or other dried pasta

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small shallot, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 radishes, trimmed, quartered

2 cups baby kale or spinach leaves

2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Lemon zest (for serving)


Clean sardines, if needed, by splitting in half lengthwise with a knife and removing backbones; set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add pasta, radishes, kale, half of sardines, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to pot. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring and adding more pasta cooking liquid by Tablespoonfuls if needed, until sauce coats pasta. Stir in lemon juice and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. Serve topped with lemon zest and remaining sardines.

This recipe originally appeared in Bon Appetit.


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