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  • Writer's pictureDavid

Mafaldine al Finocchio

Fresh, light and with a zing - this dish from southern Italy is simple and a real joy

You'll find this dish throughout southern Italy, but it's especially popular in Sicily, where the lemons have a really fresh kick without the tartness. If you're using Sicilian lemons, the sherry isn't necessary - but who cares if it's necessary?







fennel seeds

dry sherry

stale bread for breadcrumbs

mafaldine - any wide pasta such as tagliatelle or fettuccine will work with such a light sauce


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  • Remove and discard the root and the outer layer of the fennel bulb

  • Separate the stalks and the leaves - or fronds if you will; keep the fronds for garnish

  • Finely chop the stalks

  • Slice the bulb very finely in a mandolin if you have one (a banjo won't do)

  • Slice up the fine slices - we want everything to be sufficiently small and thin that it will go soft and translucent in cooking

  • Zest and juice the lemon

  • Finally finely chop the onion and garlic (see what I did?)

  • Heat olive oil in a pan, add the fennel seeds and cook till they start to colour a bit and do a wee dance in the oil

  • Add the onion & garlic

  • Stir them through then add the fennel

  • Sprinkle with salt then cook down for 10-15 minutes until it's soft

  • Add the dry sherry and burn off the alcohol

  • Add the lemon juice and zest and stir through

  • Cook down for a further 15 minutes

  • Add the pasta - don't drain it, just lift it from the pot: the water it carries is good

  • Serve with fennel fronds and toasted breadcrumbs

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