Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Tiffany Vickers
4 servings (serving size: 1 cup pasta and 1 cup sauce)

Look for imported sardines in the Latin or Mediterranean section of your supermarket.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Step 2

Trim outer leaves from fennel. Chop fronds to measure 1/2 cup. Discard stalks. Cut bulb in half lengthwise; discard core. Thinly slice bulb.

Step 3

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel and onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 20 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, oregano, red pepper, and sauce from sardines. Cover and reduce heat.

Step 4

Discard backbones from fish. Add fish to pan; gently break fish into chunks. Cover and cook 6 minutes. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with fronds.

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Ratings & Reviews


October 11, 2016
Use a good quality sardine for this--I made half the recipe using 2 cans of Starkist Gourmet sardines in tomato sauce. You definitely don't want a big cheap can of bad tomato sauce!  I found it completely unnecessary to debone a sardine--I never do, as the bones are soft, as in canned salmon, and full of calcium. I also cut the oil to one teaspoon and sauteed the onion and fennel in a nonstick pan, thus saving masses of calories.  Done this way, the calorie count is 433 per serving, which is a lot better. Served with some steamed broccoli and my husband had a warm ciabatta roll with his.

veryslowcook's Review

April 15, 2013
Interesting and different, but I'm not sure I'll make this again. We don't like fennel, so I substituted bok choy stems instead. Enjoyed this the night I made it, but got a bit tired of the sardine flavor in leftovers.

grahamya's Review

October 09, 2011
Nice change of pace from the old tomato pasta sauce. It's got tomato sauce, yes, but the sardines was way better than the overdone meatballs. I liked the fennel more than anything else. Kids didn't know what hit them. Will make again!

AdrianaT's Review

January 10, 2010
My husband and I will likely make this recipe again. We only used half the amount of sardines-- each of our cans was half the amount. The sardines were a bit of a pain to debone. But the end result was delicious. The next time I make it I will likely use the full amount of sardines.

estall's Review

November 14, 2009
I'm definitely adding this to my repertoire. This easy, fast recipe was surprisingly tasty. I don't think I've ever had sardines before, but they made a good sauce. I served it with roasted brussels sprouts, which was a good accompaniment. Would also be good with a green salad.