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Pasta with Fennel and Sardines
'Pasta Con le Sarde'

Feathery top of one large bulb fennel
2 tbls. dried currants
6 sun dried tomatoes cut into small pieces
2 pinches saffron threads in 1/4 cup very hot water
6 tbls. olive oil
1 Onion, chopped fine.
7 flat fillets of anchovy, drained rinsed and chopped
fennel seeds to taste ( I use 1 Tbls)
pine nuts (I use 1/3 cup)
2 4 oz cans of sardines
ground pepper
1/2 lb. spaghetti or other pasta

Cook the fennel greens in 3 qts salted water until tender (15
minutes). Scoop out the greens and drain. Reserve the remaining
water for cooking the pasta. (It makes a difference!)

Soak the currants and tomato in saffron tinted hot water for ten
minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a wide heavy skillet, add the
onions and gently cook them until they are golden. Add the anchovies
and mash them in well with a fork. Cook for 1 minute and remove
the skillet from the heat source.

When the fennel greens are cool enough to handle, put them into a
food processor. I add a bit of the fennel water to assist in the
process. Do not over process, leave it a bit course.

Add the greens, currants, tomatoes and soaking liquid, fennel seeds
, pine nuts and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the skillet.
Cook for 2 minutes over moderate heat to blend the flavors. Add
the sardines crush them into the sauce. If the sauce gets dry add
some more fennel water. Add salt and pepper. Makes 2 cups.

Bring the fennel water back to a boil and add the pasta. Cook
until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with half of the pasta
sauce. Cover the pasta with the remaining pasta sauce.

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