Bucatini Recipe with Sardines and Wild Fennel

Bucatini recipe with sardines and wild fennel

With fresh sardines and wild fennel, this bucatini recipe has a few less common ingredients (outside of Italy, at least), though the extra search is worth it. Specialty Italian stores may have what you are looking for, or in a pinch, you can make a few substitutions. If you can’t find fresh sardines, high quality canned sardines may be used. Simply drain two or three four-ounce cans and fillet the sardines.

In addition, dill is an acceptable substitute for wild fennel, or finocchio selvatico. Bucatini, the pasta typically used in this recipe, is a thick, hollow spaghetti that pairs well with the texture of the sauce. Bucatini pasta is used for other famous bucatini recipes: bucatini all’Amatriciana, bucatini cacio e pepe, bucatini alla gricia and bucatini alla carbonara.

5 from 2 votes
Bucatini recipe with sardines and wild fennel
Bucatini Recipe with Sardines and Wild Fennel
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
45 mins

I was recently reminded of a traditional Sicilian recipe called “pasta con le sarde,” which means pasta with sardines. The combination of the fragrant wild fennel, the creaminess of the toasted pine nuts, and the saltiness of the sardines creates flavor that will take you to the Mediterranean Sea. Go to your local Italian specialty store and look for the perfect wine pairing of Corvo Bianco--you’ll be glad you did.

Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bucatini, italian pasta, sardines
Servings: 5
Calories: 624 kcal
Author: Nonna Box
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the chopped fennel and boil for 20 minutes.

  2. Remove the fennel and reserve the cooking water.

  3. Chop the fennel into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

  4. Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in the anchovy fillets and let them dissolve for about 1 minute.

  5. Add the sardines and 2 ladles of the reserved fennel water. Stir for a few minutes, then add the toasted pine nuts, saffron, salt, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes.

  6. Add the fennel to the sardine mixture and 2 more ladles of fennel water to form a medium-thick sauce.

  7. Bring the reserved fennel water back to a boil. Add plenty of salt and more water if necessary, then add the bucatini and cook until al dente, about 8 to 9 minutes.

  8. Drain the bucatini and mix with the sardine sauce. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts
Bucatini Recipe with Sardines and Wild Fennel
Amount Per Serving
Calories 624 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 37mg 12%
Sodium 618mg 26%
Potassium 488mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 70g 23%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 3g
Protein 29g 58%
Vitamin A 2.7%
Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 29%
Iron 13.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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