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Pasta with Fennel, Sardines, and Pine Nuts


Sardines in a pine-nut-and-fennel sauce add complex flavors and protein to this easy pasta dish.

  • Servings: 4

Photography: James Baigrie

Source: Martha Stewart Living, April 2003


  • 1 pound penne, trenette, or other short pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced, plus 1/4 cup green fronds
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cans (3.75 ounces each) sardines packed in olive oil
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon for serving


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, combine oil and pine nuts in a large saute pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until nuts are lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. Add onion, sliced fennel, garlic, and salt to pan; season with pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and light golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Add sardines; stir in lemon zest and juice. Chop reserved fennel fronds; stir into mixture.

  4. Drain pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta to mixture in pan along with enough cooking water to coat; toss to combine. Divide among four serving plates; grate lemon zest over each. Serve immediately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • rizi
    23 NOV, 2010
    My fennel didn't look to good when I took it out so I just toasted some fennel seeds and added it to the onions. I also also threw in some dried thyme. Still tasted very good.