This is another simple and quick way to consume tinned sardines and makes a quick and delicious supper. The boys loved it. Brat no. 1 remarked that it would be a good one to add to the “university” repertoire. Glad they are thinking ahead!
The idea of combined sardines and fennel isn’t a new one, and this was inspired by a recipe in a Waitrose magazine for sardine and fennel linguine. My version has caramelised onions, as I love the sweetness they proffer to the dish, and take very little effort to incorporate.
Good quality sardines are key to this dish as they are added at the end and really contribute to the overall flavour. I still have my Spanish stash that I am working through, but you can find good options at delis.
Having tried several brands of pasta in the past, I do like De Cecco, as it’s proper durum-wheat pasta (doesn’t cook in an instant) and is relatively easy to find. When making pasta, I go with 75g per person as a good portion size. If you are feeding a very hungry lot, increase it to 100g a person.
Italians would scoff at adding Parmesan to any seafood or fish pasta, but my family loves it, so I do add a little before eating. Do as you wish!
Spaghetti with Sardines, Caramelised Fennel & Onions
A super-quick weekday night dinner made by mainly staple store-cupboard ingredients. The fennel is the only fresh ingredient you will need on hand.
Boil water for the pasta in a large pan. Add salt, and the pasta. Bring the pan back to a boil and set the timer on for “al dente” timing as per the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, drain out the olive oil from the sardines into a frying pan. Add a little more olive oil to the pan and put on medium heat.
Add the sliced onion and cook on medium heat until golden. Add the sliced fennel and continue to fry for another 4-5 minutes until the fennel is soft and slightly brown. Add the chilli flakes and keep the heat on low.
As soon as the pasta timer goes off, drain the pasta, but reserve a cup of the pasta water.
Add the drained pasta, and about ½ cup of the reserved water to the pan containing the fennel & onion. Allow the juices to bubble for 2-3 minutes until the water has reduced and formed a thick coating on the spaghetti strands, and the pasta is perfectly cooked.
Break the sardines into small chunks and add to the pasta and add the juice and zest of the lemon.