20mn Fennel and Anchovies Pasta

I found a book called “Le répertoire des saveurs” (the flavours repertoire) which helps crafting new recipes by indicating nice flavour pairings. I’m no professional cook, and I like to read/watch/talk to knowledgeable people as much as I can to learn my own way.

Said book had a surprising entry : fennel and anchovies. This pairing was even named “la truffe du pauvre” (the poor man’s truffle). I don’t know why I double checked it since I don’t even like fennel, but it got me intringued.

I’m so happy it did ! I crafted a very simple pasta recipe out of it, with fennel, anchovies, and garlic and chilies to enhance the flavours. Honestly, when I started to cut the fennel with its peculiar smell, I almost backed out. But I thought ; hey, go ahead, be curious.

You guessed it ; it was fricking delicious. Please try it even if you don’t like fennel ! Anchovies litteraly transform this vegetable. I don’t understand it. It’s magic. 

Fennel and anchovies pasta – Recipe

Ingredients – Advice & key points

I usually go to Eataly to get the produce I need. If you don’t have one near your location, you can find fresh produce like guanciale and pecorino at your local Italian deli, maybe even your pasta. For pasta, if not available there, you should be able to order it online quite easily.

  • Pasta :
    • I believe spaghetti is a great choice here, or any long-shaped pasta kind, as the light sauce will cling to it.

What you must not compromise on is using Bronze Drawn pasta. Why so ? Because when processed this way, the pasta will present small irregularities that will enable the sauce to cling to it.

  • Anchovies : You want to buy anchovy fillets in olive oil. Try to buy quality ones ; I bought mine from Eataly, but you could even find some from your usual grocery store.

Cooking your pasta – Pieces of advice

  • Pasta :
    • Please salt your pasta water appropriately ! 10g of salt/liter is usually recommended.
    • As for most pasta recipe, we’ll finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce. We’ll just put them in for the last 3 minutes.
    • It is important that you start tasting 2 minutes before the packet theoretical time, so that you get perfect al dente pasta.

Now come and cook !

20mn Fennel and Anchovies Pasta

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 7 min Cook Time 13 min Total Time 20 mins
Servings: 2
Best Season: Winter


20mn bold pasta without any meat ! The anchovies-fennel combination works wonders and transforms the mild aniseed flavour from the fennel into an umami, salty and slightly bitter pasta reminiscent of cheese and miso, but only with a humble vegetable and fish base. 



  1. Prep your ingredients

    Fill half a pot with water and bring it to a boil.

    Meanwhile :

    Cut your fennel bulb into slices (~2-3mm thick) 

    Mince your garlic and your red chili pepper

    Mince your anchovies. 

  2. Let's cook !

    Add your olive oil to your pan.

    Bring it to medium heat, then add your fennel with a bit of salt.

    Salt your boiling water, then add your pasta.

    Around 6 minutes in (adjust for your pasta by removing 4 minutes from your pasta cooking time), add your garlic and bird's eye chili to your pan. Wait 30 seconds, then add your minced anchovies to your pan.

    30 seconds later, add your pasta to the pan with 1 ladle of pasta water. Mix well with a wooden spoon to emulsify the oil.

    Let it finish cooking for around 3 to 4 minutes, then taste before removing from heat. Add water and leave longer if needed ; the pasta should be cooked but al dente, with a little bit of water still in the pan. 

    Plate it up.

    Et voilà !! You're done ! 

    Don't forget to heavily salt your pasta water when boiling (10g/liter of water)
Keywords: home made, pasta, fennel, anchovies, comforting, umami

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *