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Tuscan Recipes: Courgetti

By: Steve Keenan Journalist | Specialist in rural tourism

Ceri Jones - Chef, teacher and food writer

Ceri Jones - Chef, teacher and food writer

I'm a Natural Chef working as a cooking teacher, food/recipe writer at Natural Kitchen Adventures and yoga retreat chef. As a Natural Chef I aim to put seasonal, nutritious food at the heart of cooking and champion local produce.

The inspiration for this dish, which was no doubt taken from a classic Sicilian recipe for pasta con le Sarde, came from a supermarket recipe card. I’ve tweaked it here and there to suit my nutritional preferences. 

Pine nuts and sultanas are a delicious combination. 

You may know them from the Tuscan chestnut cake, Castagnaccio. They work brilliantly in this dish along with heaps of lemon zest, capers, chives and garlic to add taste and brightness to the oily sardines. My staple courgetti ribbons of pasta made from julienning courgettes (zucchini) replace traditional spaghetti. It’s a perfect work-night supper, taking under 15 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients (serves one)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 7 minutes

  • 210g tin of sardines, drained, oil reserved
  • One clove garlic, finely chopped
  • One tbsp sultanas
  • One tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • One tbsp capers
  • 1.5 courgettes (zucchini), julienned
  • ½ tbsp chopped chives
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Black pepper to serve


  1. Tip a little of the oil drained from the sardines into a frying pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes until softened.
  2. Meanwhile, add the julienned courgettes to another pan, and sauté over low heat in a little of the sardine oil until softened – approximately four minutes.
  3. Add the sardines to the garlic pan, and break them up with the back of your wooden spoon as you stir them around the pan. Next add the sultanas, pine nuts and capers and stir well. Cook for a few minutes until the sardines are warmed through.
  4. When the courgettes are ready, add them to the saucepan and toss all the ingredients together, distributing the sauce evenly through the courgettes. Scatter in the chives, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a little extra salt if necessary, but likely not as capers are salty.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish and add liberal amounts of black pepper.

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