Healthier choice recipe: Pasta with fennel and sardine

Pasta with fennel and sardine.
PHOTO: Healthier choice recipe: Pasta with fennel and sardine

SINGAPORE - So you are stuck at home and hungry.

Before you reach for the phone to order fast food, Mr Roberto Galetti, the executive chef of Italian restaurant Garibaldi, would advise you to check your cabinets for a pack of pasta and a tin of sardines.

The only other ingredient that may warrant a trip to the supermarket is the fennel, an aromatic and crunchy vegetable with a white, heavy-bottomed stem base - this is the "bulb" part that is used in this recipe.

Fennel is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C and fibre. It also contains a phytonutrient called anethole, which has been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

Sardines, on the other hand, offer their own set of health benefits. Besides having a high concentration of vitamin B12, which promotes heart health, the fish also boasts essential minerals such as selenium and phosphorus. And yes, these nutrients are retained even in canned sardines.

Italy-born Mr Galetti did not add a single pinch of salt to flavour the dish. A bit of salt was added only to the water to boil the pasta, but this was later poured away.

Instead, the flavours came from the herbs and fresh condiments used. Plus, the tomato sauce in the tin would already contain some salt.

"Sardines and pasta is a very common combination in Sicily, where I come from," said Mr Galetti. "As a child, I would eat this every day."


1. Heat the oil until it gets hot before stir-frying. Not only will this shorten the cooking time, it also reduces the amount of oil absorbed by the ingredients.

2. Use fresh herbs and spices instead of salt to add interesting and varied flavours to dishes. The daily recommended sodium intake is not more than one teaspoon of salt.


Pasta with fennel and sardine
(Serves four)


260g angel hair pasta (dry)
120g fresh fennel bulb, diced into small pieces
5g fresh dill, chopped
40g sardines in tomato sauce
30g shallots
2 tsp olive oil
1 litre of water (for boiling pasta)
1/2 tsp salt (for boiling pasta)


1. In a pan, cook the diced fennel in olive oil.

2. Add the dill and shallots, followed by the sardines in tomato sauce.

3. Cook this sardine mixture over low heat. Add water if necessary. Set aside.

4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Remove and strain.

5. Toss the pasta in the sauce and serve warm.

(Per serving)

Energy: 286 kilocalories
Protein: 10.2g
Total fat: 4.2g
Saturated fat: 0.6g
Cholesterol: 3mg
Carbohydrate: 51.1g
Dietary fibre: 1.4g
Sodium: 169mg

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