Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
Follow on X Follow on Facebook Follow on Instagram Follow on Threads
Christine McFadden with students
Barbecued Lobster with
New Potatoes, Watercress
and Chives
Blackberries with Sweet
Spiced Ricotta
Candied Seville Orange
Peel in Syrup
Celeriac Steaks with
Mushrooms, Parmesan and
Sizzled Sage
Celery and Barley Soup
with Seeds
Coconut Flour Pancakes
with Lime
Deep-Fried Egg
Easy Curry
Fennel, Orange, Olive
and Red Onion Salad
Globe Artichokes
Glorious Green Stir-Fry
Gooseberries with Orange
and Bay Syrup
Goose Egg Frittata with
Potato, Onions and
Piquillo Peppers
Greengage and
Cobnut Crumble
Guinea Fowl with Peppercorn
and Kaffir Lime Leaf Butter
Japonica Jelly
Korean Roasted Roots
Medlar and Ginger Creams
Medlar and Rosemary Jelly
Meringue Roulade with Strawberry, Cucumber
and Mint Filling
Mexican-Style Cabbage Soup with Pork and Beans
Moroccan Goat Tagine with
Apricots and Almonds
Oxtail, Celeriac and Carrots
Pan de Higo
(Spanish Fig Bread)
Pan-Fried Cauliflower with
Lovage Crumbs and Lemon
Parsnip and Ginger Cupcakes with Tangerine Drizzle
Pasta Con Le Sarde
Peach and Almond Ricotta
Peaches in Strawberry-Rose Syrup
Pear and Chestnut Tart with
Rosemary and Orange Syrup
Quince Compôte
Quince and Ginger Sorbet
Rabbit with Potatoes,
Peppers and Lemon
Roasted Parsnip and
Cumin Soup
Roasted Squash and
Chilli Soup
Roasted Swede, Ginger and
Spiced Black Bean Soup
Rosemary Sorbet
Rhubarb and Angelica Sorbet
Rhubarb Tart with Star Anise
and Orange
Salted Sevilles with Star Anise, Coriander and Chilli
Sea Bass Parcels
with Fennel and
Preserved Lemon
Sea Buckthorn, Apple
and Ginger Cake
Seville Orange Ice Cream
Sicilian Sesame Bread
Spiced Medlar Tart with
Walnut Pastry
Spiced Poached Pears,
Walnuts and Sheep’s Cheese
Spiced Roast Quince with
Honey and Clotted Cream
Spring Lamb and Barley Pie
with Lemon, Rosemary
and Mint
Strawberry and
Black Pepper Ice-Cream
Strawberry Compôte with
Tarragon and Orange Zest
Steak and Kidney Pie
Sweet Pepper Tarte Tatin
with Black Pepper Caramel
Turkey Egg Frittata with
Roasted Red Peppers
Two-Cherry Yogurt Ice
Venison Vindaloo
Warm Duck Breasts with Peppery Leaves, Radishes and Walnuts
Warm Salad of Partridge,
Pears and Walnuts
Watercress and
Mushroom Pâté
Sicilian pasta sardines fennel recipe devlopment Dorset Foodie

Pasta Con Le Sarde

A classic pasta dish with sweet and deeply savoury flavours that reflect the
influence of the Arabs who ruled Sicily more than a thousand years ago.
The dish is normally made with wild fennel greens, gathered by the roadside,
but fennel bulb, fronds, seeds and pollen (if you have it) make a reasonable
The dish is topped with crisp fennel breadcrumbs, known in Sicily as
'poor man's Parmesan' , and used instead of grated cheese. The crumbs
soak up the oily juices and add contrasting crunch to the silky pasta.
Serves 4–5

dry white wine 125ml
raisins or golden sultanas 50g
saffron three good pinches
fennel bulb with fronds 1 medium, weighing about 350g
onion 1 large, weighing about 225g
whole sardines 5-6 large (defrosted if frozen)
extra-virgin olive oil 3 tbsp, plus extra for serving
fennel pollen (optional) ½ tsp
anchovy fillets 4, oil-packed
pine nuts 25g, toasted
bucatini or tagliatelle 350g
sea salt 1 heaped tbsp, plus extra for seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
fennel breadcrumbs (see below)
lemon segments to garnish

1) Gently heat the wine in a small saucepan. Add the raisins and saffron, and set aside.

2) Trim the fronds from the fennel bulb. Finely chop half the fronds, and leave the rest whole. Set aside. Remove the root and any blemished layers.
Slice the bulb lengthways into quarters and remove the core. Dice the flesh, and set aside.

3) Slice the onion in half lengthways. Lay each half flat and slice into small dice.

4) Next prepare the sardines (or ask your fishmonger to fillet them). Scrape away the scales under running water. Cut off the head, then slice the belly open and remove the guts. Rinse under running water. With the cut side upwards, gently open out the body like a book. Carefully pull out the spine. Cut off the fins and any bony bits. Pat dry, then cut each fish into quarters and set aside.

5) Bring a very large pot of water to the boil – about 3½ litres – for the pasta.

6) Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide high-sided pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped fennel, the onion and the fennel pollen if you are using it. Gently fry, stirring, for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browned.

7) Add the anchovy fillets and stir for 1 minute until dissolved.

8) Add the raisins, saffron and wine. Cook for 1–2 minutes until the wine has reduced a little.

9) Add the sardines, pine nuts and chopped fennel fronds. Gently fry for about 2 minutes, stirring carefully now and again (try not to break up the sardines) or until the sardines are just cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat.

10) Tip the pasta in the boiling water, adding the heaped tablespoon of sea salt. Bring back to the boil and cook for 8–10 minutes until al dente – tender but with some bite. Drain in a colander set over a large bowl. Reserve about 300ml of the cooking water.

11) Add the pasta to the sardine mixture, along with a small ladleful of the reserved pasta water. Stir and gently toss over medium-high heat, until the pasta is mixed with the sauce. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil.

12) Tip into a warm serving dish. Top with a generous handful of fennel crumbs. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, another slug of olive oil, and a few lemon segments. Serve right away.

For the fennel breadcrumbs
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add 1 tablespoon of crushed fennel seeds and cook until fragrant – about 20 seconds.
Add 75g coarse stale breadcrumbs and fry for 3–4 minutes, tossing until dark golden and crisp.
Remove from the heat. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Photography: Christine McFadden    
© 2023 The Dorset Foodie | Website by Compass