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When I was a little girl growing up in NY, our little Italian family was a close knit group that gathered every weekend for fun family times and, of course, FOOD! Although seldom on the menu, this remains one of my favorite dishes. After some searching to enjoy these savory-sweet flavors again, I found this on Italicious.wordpress.com. Mangia!
- 1 (3 3/4 ounce) can sardines, chopped (packed in olive oil)
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1⁄2 lb pasta (linguini is traditional)
- 1 teaspoon salt (for pasta water)
- fennel leaves, chopped
- Fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat.
- While water is heating -- Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add the fennel, sauté for a few minutes until they start to cook. Add the raisins and the pine nuts and simmer until the water for the pasta is boiling.
- In the meantime, toast your breadcrumbs in a small heavy bottomed skillet. I usually keep old Italian bread in the freezer and chop it up in a blender when it has thawed. Trust me it is much more flavorful than store bought breadcrumbs. Keep an eye on the breadcrumbs; they usually toast quickly.
- Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. You should add the sardines to the pan with the fennel at this point.
- When the pasta is perfectly al dente, add a cup of the pasta water to the fennel sauce, turn up the heat on the sauce. Drain the pasta. Without shaking all of the water out of the colander pour the pasta into the pan and toss it with the sauce. This allows for the pasta to cook a little longer in the sauce and to absorb the flavor.
- Take the pan off of the heat and toss with the toasted bread crumbs and chopped fennel fronds. Serve immediately.