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Hein van Tonder


  • 1 x 400g fennel bulb
  • 3 x 120g tins sardines in oil
  • ¼ cup olive oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 3 anchovies
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes more to taste
  • 300 g pasta spaghetti, linguini, tagliatelle
  • ¼ cup sultanas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts optional


  • Remove the fronds from the fennel bulbs and save those for a salad
  • Drain the sardines from the oil and roughly break the fish up with a fork and set aside
  • Dice the fennel bulb, heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the fennel until tender and golden (about 15 minutes)
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside
  • Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil
  • Add the onion to the same pot (add more oil if needed) and fry over a medium heat until soft but not browned
  • Add the fried fennel and fry for a minute or so
  • Add the anchovies and break up with a wooden spoon
  • Add the chilli flakes if used and give it all a good stir
  • Once the water has boiled add the pasta and cook until just al dente
  • Drain the pasta (keep some of the water) and set aside
  • Add the sultanas to the fennel and a ladle of the pasta cooking water
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Add the sardines and continue to cook uncovered until the sardines are warmed through
  • Add the reserved pasta and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and stir to combine
  • Season with salt and ground black pepper
  • Serve, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts (optional)