Pasta With Sardines

ready in: 30 minutes

1/2 cup golden raisins
1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup each: dry white wine, chicken broth
Pinch saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
3 cans (3.75 to 4.37 ounces each) sardines in oil, drained
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional; see note)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs, toasted (see note)

Soak the raisins in a cup of hot water for about 20 minutes. Cook the spaghetti in well-salted, boiling water until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the fennel and onion, season with a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, 10 minutes.

Add the wine and broth; allow to reduce slightly. Drain raisins and add with the saffron and half the sardines to skillet. Break up sardines into sauce with a fork. Simmer for 1 minute. Coarsely chop remaining sardines in bite-sized pieces and gently stir into sauce along with the fennel seeds.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add spaghetti to skillet, tossing with sauce and adding a little pasta water to loosen sauce, if needed. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and breadcrumbs.

Makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, watching carefully to prevent burning. For breadcrumbs, toast, also in a dry skillet, until crispy.

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