- 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pinch saffron
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 pound bucatini pasta
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced fennel bulb
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 2 (4 ounce) cans sardines packed in oil, drained and crumbled
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, or more to taste
- Cook and stir bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until bread crumbs are crispy and toasted, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl to cool.
- Grind saffron threads with a mortar and pestle; pour white wine into mortar and stir to combine.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook bucatini in boiling water, stirring occasionally until almost cooked through but firm to the bite, 10 to 11 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
- Heat remaining olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onion and fennel with a pinch of salt in hot oil until onion is soft, about 10 minutes.
- Stir raisins, garlic, and anchovy fillet into onion mixture; cook and stir until heated through, about 1 minute.
- Pour saffron-wine into skillet; cook until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Pour 1 ladleful reserved pasta water into skillet and bring to a simmer. Stir pine nuts and red pepper flakes into sauce; simmer until flavors combine and sauce is reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Stir bucatini and sardines into wine mixture; increase heat to high, and cook, stirring frequently and adding more reserved pasta water as necessary, until sauce and pasta are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle into bowls and top with fennel fronds and toasted bread crumbs.
Chef John's Pasta con le Sarde, recipe