Bucatini with Anchovies and Fennel

Next up is Bucatini with Anchovies, Parmesan and Fennel Seeds. If
you are not an anchovy-lover (I am only a moderate partaker of said
fish) do not be put off – it’s not like you are eating big hunks of
hairy, salty, boney fish ( ahem – if you love anchovies, you can totally
do this by putting a couple of whole ones on top!!!), it’s more like a
delicious mass of slightly salty, slightly cheesey, fragrantly fennely
deliciousness. On a final note, what I love about this is we are now
half a world away from Europe, snuggled up in the midst of a New Zealand
winter, but you know what – we can crank up some Italian opera, open up
a bottle of grunty red wine, light a candle or two and be transported
by our food. Cool. (Little PS – I set this up with two forks romantically thinking it would be good to share, but when Nick got home from a big run and lots of chores he ‘went in’ to test a mouthful and scoffed the lot…couldn’t be happier – success!

3 slices white bread, crusts removed 
2 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g bucatini or spaghetti
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
200g white or regular anchovy fillets, drained and very roughly chopped
2 teaspoon lightly toasted fennel seeds, gently crushed
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley or finely chopped fennel leaf tips
1 cup grated Parmesan
bread slices in a food processor to form bread crumbs. Heat oil in a
frypan and add breadcrumbs, sea salt and pepper. Toss around over a
medium heat for a few minutes until golden and crunchy.
a large pot of salted water on to boil and cook spaghetti according to
packet instructions until just al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the
cooking water. (Al dente as you know means ‘firm to the bite’ and
believe me, proper Italian pasta really is a little firm, certainly not
squishy…so if you don’t normally, maybe try it a little firmer than
you are used to. Not solid clearly, but definitely with a little nugget
of resistance in the core of the spaghetti.) Heat oil in a large pot and
add garlic, anchovies and fennel seeds. Cook for a couple of minutes
until the garlic is fragrant but not browned and the anchovies are starting to break up. Add the pasta to the pot
with a good grinding of black pepper, the reserved pasta water, half of
the Parmesan, and half of the parsley or fennel tips. Serve with  a good grinding of black pepper, the rest of the parsley or fennel tips and a sprinkling of
breadcrumbs with Parmesan passed separately around the table. Serves 4-6 (6 for lunch, 4 for dinner with a nice big salad on the side).


  1. Glorious. This is just glorious! Look at all the inspiration you got from your trip to Italy! Bucatini cooked in every sauce are absolutely delightful. I never tried making pasta with fennel, as it's more of a sicilian thing to do. I've always seen/done the same thing with broccoli! but I love anchovies so I'd love to try this at some point!

    1. Thanks so much Valentina – you are so right about the trip – I had a notebook with me the whole time, scribbling down the details of everything we ate! 🙂

  2. In Sicily there's a dish made with pasta, sarde (some kind of giant fresh sardines) and fennel which is absolutely amazing.
    And you are amazing as well, thanks for cooking the pasta al dente, as it should always be 🙂

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    here, I am truly enjoying by these.

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