Linguini with fennel, tomatoes, olives and capers

Whoneedsachef is back home after an amazing, adventurous, enriching and most of all a very delicious year in Madrid! I’m excited to explore the food scene in the Netherlands again, and see how I can incorporate what I have learned and seen in Spain into my recipes and cooking style.

The coming weeks, I am taking up the challenge to come up with tasty, healthy and home-made dishes that can be made by spending less than 5 euros per person. I will be buying my groceries in the Netherlands, so the costs quoted here should be viewed in the Dutch context. In case I’ll will not use a complete product, for example only half a pack of linguini, I’ll include the costs proportionally.
This dish is a very simple but delicious vegetarian pasta, and there are many ways you can pimp this dish. Think for example about adding some toasted fennel seeds and some canned anchovies to the sauce, a splash of white wine, or some toasted pine nuts to keep it vegetarian. Or if you like fresh flavors, add a bit of lemon juice to the sauce and add some gated lemon skin in the end. Buen provecho!

Ingredients (for 2):

  • 150-200 grams of linguini or other type of dried pasta
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly slices
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut in quarters and then in thin slices
  • 2 hands full of cherry tomatoes
  • some black olives, sliced
  • some capers, drained
  • dried chili flakes
  • Parmesan cheese
    Costs per person: 3 euros
    Cooking time: 20 minutes


  • Boil water for the pasta, and cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the package. To add some flavor to the pasta, I like to put a cube of chicken or vegetable stock to the boiling water. When the pasta is done, drain it and add a generous splash of good (Spanish) olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other
  • In the mean time, heat some olive oil in a frying pan, and fry the shallots, garlic and fennel on medium fire for about 5 minutes
  • Add the halved tomatoes and fry for another 5 minutes on slightly higher fire
  • Add the olives, capers, chili flakes and let the sauce simmer for a couple more minutes
  • Season the sauce well with black pepper and salt and don’t forget to taste it
  • When the sauce is ready, toss in the drained linguini and give it a good stir while still in the pan
  • When you serve, add a generous amount of Parmesan cheese and a splash of good olive oil
    Enjoy this cheap and healthy home-made meal!

What to drink with this?

The costs of the wine are not included in the cost calculation, but if you are looking for a good wine to go with this dish any fruity Italian red wine would work, or a fresh and fruity white wine such as a Verdejo or Soave.