Pasta con Sarde, Fennel and Italy on Spice & Recipe

Chef Leo Fascianella shares his fennel recipe and his journey from Sicily, Italy to Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A.

Spice & Recipe with Mike DiGiacomo kicks off its journey with a recipe from Italy, as a tribute to DiGiacomo’s Italian heritage.

Pasta with Sardines (Italian: Pasta con Sarde) is a recipe that uses fennel, a popular spice and herb of southern Italian cuisine due to its availability. Fennel grows wild in all Mediterranean regions, including the island of Sicily, where Chef Leo Fascianella comes from.

Fascianella had very humble beginnings in America. He shined shoes at his uncle’s barber shop and was later promoted to washing dishes in a fine restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. To this day, he still washes dishes as Chef Leo says with a tease, but in his own restaurant. Pasta Amore restaurant in Omaha, NE opened its doors in 1986.

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Serving size: 2 people


  • 4 sardines
  • 4 anchovies
  • 1 cup fresh chopped fennel leaves
  • 1 teaspoon white raisins
  • 1 teaspoon pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2-3 oz. olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic
  • 1 ½ tablespoon bread crumbs sautéed with olive oil
  • 8 oz. bucatini pasta (1/2lb)
  • 1 fresh tomato chopped or 3 tablespoons Marinara sauce

Start by blanching the fennel in a pot of boiling salted water for several minutes. In the meanwhile, in a large deep pan sauté onion, garlic, sardines and anchovies with olive oil. In a few minutes transfer fennel in the pan, but save the water and boil the pasta in it. Add pine nuts, crushed red pepper, raisins, chopped tomato or marinara sauce in the pan. Cook pasta as per direction. Add cooked pasta on the mix and toss well. When ready to serve, sprinkle sautéed bread crumbs on the pasta and Buon Appetito!

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March 15, 2021

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1 Comment

  1. Margie Trembley

    Mike, how come I didn’t know about this?