Pasta with Fresh Fennel and Sardines

You saw the word “sardines” and skipped right over this recipe. But don’t! Come back! If you like salmon and tuna fish, you’ll like this recipe. It’s not too fishy, I promise. I admit, I’m not a fan of strong fish either but I’ve been trying to find ways to boost my omega-3 fatty acid intake and canned sardines are a convenient choice. This is one of my husband’s favorite recipes, he would eat it every week. I found the recipe in an old, but fabulous, cookbook called The New Basics by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (authors of the The Silver Palate Cookbook). Sardines and fennel are typical foods found in Sicilian cooking and this dish truly shouts out Mediterranean. The flavors of fennel, onions, white raisins and sardines complement one another for a well-balanced dish.

Plus, it’s super fast and easy!













Pasta with Fresh Fennel and Sardines


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into julienne
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into julienne
  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I used toasted walnuts)
  • 2 cans (4 1/2 ounces each) sardines, drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


Heat the oil in a large skillet, and saute the onions and fennel over low heat until soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Add the raisins and pine nuts or walnuts to the fennel and onion mixture and cook another 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the sardines and parsley, and toss gently (breaking up the sardines so they blend into the mixture). Serve immediately over the drained hot pasta with a wedge of lemon.

Note: To prep the fennel, cut off the upper stems and leaves and use a vegetable peeler to peel away the outer, tough layer of the fennel bulb. Cut the bulb in half, removing the core at the bottom of the bulb. Now you can slice it into thin strips. Fennel has a lovely, anise flavor but becomes more mild once cooked. Fresh fennel can be added to salads or eaten as is for a crunchy snack.

Home Goods is an excellent resource for high quality condiments and fancy food items. I found the Matiz Gallego sardines there but any supermarket sardine will work in this recipe.

Nutrition Note: Canned sardines do contain sodium but they are the only source of added salt in this dish. Each serving is just a little over 200 mg of sodium. A 4 ounce serving of sardines provides 1800 mg of mercury-free omega-3 fatty acids, just slightly less than canned salmon at 2200 mg omega-3 fatty acids.



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