Pasta con Sarde

I always used to make this meal when my kids were little. During this COVID 19 isolation, many of us are resurrecting meals we used to cook in days when we had more time and less money. This is quick, easy, healthy, and cheap as dirt when fennel is in season. I’m sure others have more “authentic” and gourmet versions of this meal, but here’s what I do and it makes me feel good to cook and eat it.

Pasta con Sarde e Finocchietto
(Spaghetti with Sardines and Fennel)

  • 1 head fresh fennel stems and fern (save bulb for salad)
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 med. Onion – chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tins (4.375 oz. each) in olive oil
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • Fill large pasta pot with about 8 cups of water, 2 tsp. salt.
  • Wash the fennel stems and fern, cut to fit in the pot
  • Cook fennel for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove fennel with a slotted spoon and leave water in the pot to cook pasta.
  • Finely mince the fennel.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, sauté onion and garlic until golden.
  • Add minced fennel and diced tomatoes.
  • Season to taste – I use salt & pepper, and 1 tsp. Penzy’s Italian Seasoning.
  • Bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  • 10 minutes in – start heating the fennel water in the pasta pot.
  • Add spaghetti to the water when it comes to a boil.
  • Mash sardines in a bowl and add to skillet.
  • Add al dente pasta to the skillet using a slotted spoon, stirring into the sauce at each spoonful.
  • Lower the heat under the skillet and allow it to simmer a minute or two.
  • Serve onto plates and top with Parmesan cheese.

Accompany with a salad of cucumbers and slices of the fennel bulb.