Fennel, Saffron and Almond Bucatini

Written up for Hannah Satz. A riff on a classic Sicilian flavour combination that I made last week –

Ingredients:
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
4-5 anchovies
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
a pinch of chilli flakes
a pinch of saffron, soaked in 3 tablespoons of boiling water
2 tablespoons of currants, soaked in half a cup of boiling water
2-3 tablespoons of flaked almonds, toasted until golden brown
1 bulb of fennel, trimmed of tough bits and very finely sliced (save any green fronds for garnish)
100g bucatini or other pasta, per person (this recipe served two)

How to make:

Boil the kettle and prepare the saffron, currants, fennel, as described above. Then fill and boil it again in anticipation of cooking the pasta.

Put 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan with the anchovies and turn the heat on low-medium. Break them up with a wooden spoon as it heats up and they begin to cook. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds or so and then add the tomato paste and chilli flakes and stir round and fry and watch the oil turn red. Take care the garlic does not burn. Then add the thinly-sliced fennel and stir into the oil and cook on a low heat until it’s softening for 3-4 minutes. Then add the saffron and its soaking water and the currants and their soaking water and cover the pan with a lid or foil and cook at a simmer for 10 minutes or until the fennel is soft. Add the almonds and stir them in just before mixing with the pasta with any fennel fronds you have.

Meanwhile, put c. 2 litres of boiling water from the kettle in a saucepan and bring to the boil again and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta to cook. As the bucatini softens make sure it all gets in the water. It only takes around 6 minutes to cook.

When the pasta is cooked al dente, remove a cup of cooking water and set it aside, and then drain. Add the pasta to the sauce pan and toss it, and adding tablespoons of pasta water as you go, so that it emulsifies with the sauce. Check the seasoning and add salt if needed and a grind of black pepper.

Serve immediately.

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