Saturday Spaghetti with Sardines & Fennel {Simple Summer Suppers #2}
Gutsy but not overpowering even if you aren't a fan of anchovies. Can be made from store cupboard ingredients so a useful pasta sauce to have to hand.
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • two tins of Sardines in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tbsps olive oil (for cooking)
  • 1 medium red or white onion
  • 2 rounded tbsps tomato puree’
  • 2 tbsps sultanas or seedless raisins
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 2 tbsps pine nuts, plus extra to serve
  • fresh fennel fronds (if available)
  • 2 tsps fennel seeds, crushed
  • fresh milled pepper
  • 500g quality spaghetti (i.e. not quick cook variety)
  • Fine breadcrumbs, toasted up
  1. Drain the tinned sardines. Peel and dice the onion. Place around 2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil in a large, deep-sided heavy-based frying pan and gently fry the onion over a medium heat til soft and just browning.
  2. Add the drained sardines, pine nuts, crushed fennel sea, seasoning and tomato puree’ and stir around for a couple of minutes until the fish breaks up and ‘melts’ in.
  3. Meanwhile, pop the pasta water on to boil.
  4. Add the wine to the fish mixture and allow the alcohol to evaporate. Turn the heat up to speed evaporation, then reduce to a low heat to bubbly away while the past cooks.
  5. Cut up the fresh fennel fronds if using. Add pasta to the water and cook according to instructions. Err on the side of less time to keep the pasta nicely al dente.
  6. When the pasta is cooked but retains some bite in the centre, drain and add to the fish mixture in the frying pan, and toss occasionally over a low heat to heat through.
  7. Once the sauce/pasta is thoroughly heated through (around 2-3 mins max), serve in warmed pasta dishes and toss over some fennel fronds and the toasted breadcrumbs (homemade with a little olive oil) on the plate before serving.
Recipe by The Red Bistro at