Perciatelli (or Spaghetti) with Sardines, Anchovies, and Fennel Sauce

January 23, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This recipe comes from a friend, Vincent Di Fiore and has been tweaked by my son and I for our cookbook, "Deliciously Italian." Vincent is an accomplished musician, playing trumpet and keyboards in the world-famous pop group, Cake. He remembers making this dish with his father after they picked wild fennel during a family trip to his hometown of Bagheria, Sicily. Note: If you can't find perciatelli, spaghetti works fine, but the former has a pinhole through the strand which helps absorb the sauce. —Federico_

What You'll Need
  • 1 large bunches fennel greens
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can achovy filets, drained
  • 1 can sardines, drained and diced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons, pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound Spaghetti or perciatelli (see note)
  1. Boil the fennel greens in a large pot of water until tender. Remove and cut up into small pieces with scissors or chop in blender. Save the fennel flavored water.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet and saute the onions and anchovies until the onions are translucent. Add the sardines, pine nuts and salt and pepper Add the cut up fennel greens to the sardine mixture with a little of the saved water to give the sauce a desired consistency. Simmer over very low heat until the pasta is ready.
  3. Boil the pasta in the remaining saved fennel water. Drain the pasta through a colander then return to empty pot mixing in half of the sauce and stir. Serve each individual pasta dish with more of the fennel sauce on top and/or pass additional sauce separately.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JodyO
  • Federico_
  • dymnyno
  • sl(i)m

5 Reviews

JodyO July 1, 2014
I made this tonight with a couple of adjustments after reading the comments. I added 3 cloves of garlic and about 2 oz of diced tomatoes. I too, was underwhelmed, even though I love ever single solitary ingredient. I still have some left, so plan to add the bulb that I had roasted for another recipe, and the fronds from a different bulb, tomorrow, as well as the rest of the 16 oz can of diced tomatoes. I have to wonder if you loose all the flavor from the fronds by boiling them. The flavor didn't come through to the pasta from the water.... If I were to make it again, I would perhaps blanch the fronds quickly and then chop and add them. But everyone's taste buds are different and I enjoyed trying something totally outside my box er kitchen. ;-) Thanks Federico!
Federico_ September 13, 2011
Sorry about that sl(i)m, although bland is not a word I would use when I've made it. Hard to understand how with fennel, onions, a can of anchovies, and a can of sardines as well as red pepper it could end up bland. Who knows? I'll make it again later this week and see if it needs any tweaks.
sl(i)m September 13, 2011
Tried this last night with pasta, fennel, and sardine enthusiasts. It came out bland, even with the addition of hot pepper flakes. So disappointed.
Federico_ January 23, 2011
The greens are attached to long stems...for this recipe I cut just about an inch below the spot where the green meets the white bulb and when the green stems are softened, take them out and chop them up along with a small amount of the bulb.
dymnyno January 23, 2011
When you specify "fennel greens" are you just using the top feathery part, or do you include the bulb too?