This is an adaptation of a Waitrose recipe which appeared in one of its periodic MyWaitrose members’ mailings. The original recipe called for sardines but because I don’t care for sardines I decided to modify the recipe. And in doing so I added some onion, a little stock and changed linguine for spaghetti – only because I didn’t have any linguine to hand when I made this dish the other evening.
Like a number of my recipes this one, too, may be tweaked further. If you don’t care for anchovies you can swap them or simply leave them out particularly if you wish to make it a vegetarian dish.
To say the fennel is caramelised is a little bit of a misnomer insofar that no sugar is used but rather the fennel is cooked over a high heat to brown it a little and give a caramel colour to the vegetable.
What you’ll need for two people as a main course or four people for a first course:
- 200g/7oz (or more depending on appetites) spaghetti or linguine
- 1 tin anchovies
- Olive oil
- 1 fennel bulb finely sliced. Reserve the fronds
- Half an onion finely chopped
- Half a mug of chicken or vegetable stock*
- Hot chilli flakes
- Juice of half a lemon
* I use (among other stock cubes and concentrated stock) Knorr’s Touch of Taste liquid stock in bottles. I find this ideal if you wish to make just a small amount of stock rather than having to make up 500ml of the stuff when using a stock cube.
What you’ll need to do:
- Put a large saucepan of water to boil for the pasta, salting the water. Once the water comes to the boil, add your pasta and cook according to the packet instructions or to taste.
- Whilst the pasta is cooking heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. You may use the olive oil from the tinned anchovies if you wish – I did a half-and-half, a bit of the anchovy oil and olive oil.
- Add the fennel and fry over a high heat for 4-6 minutes stirring often until the fennel turns a caramel colour and has softened. Remove from the frying pan to a dish and keep warm.
- Reduce the heat and add the chopped onion to the frying pan and fry the onions a little. (Add a little more olive/anchovy oil if you think the pan might need it). Add the anchovies to the onions and fry gently breaking up the anchovies with a wooden spoon. They will start to melt into the onion/oil mix.
- Add the stock and bring to the boil. A half-mug of stock isn’t too much but what you are aiming for is the stock to reduce to a nice glossy consistency. Return the fennel to the frying pan and mix together.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add to the fennel, onion and anchovy sauce (add a little pasta water if you wish), add the chilli flakes and lemon juice and mix all together allowing the sauce to bubble a little and coat the pasta.
- Serve topped with the reserved fennel fronds.