Pasta with Fennel, Saffron and Raisins

Pasta with Fennel, Saffron and Raisins
Serves 4
This Sicilian-style pasta is a great venue for fennel. I also like this pasta with sardines.
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  1. 1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  2. 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  3. 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1/3 cup golden raisins
  6. 1/2 cup white wine
  7. 1 pinch saffron
  8. Juice of 1/2 lemon
  9. 3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
  10. 1 1/2 TBSP parsley, chopped
  11. 1/2 package spaghetti or fettucini*
  12. salt and pepper
  13. 8-12 large prawns (optional)
Breadcrumb Topping (optional)
  1. 3/4 cup breadcrumbs**
  2. 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  3. 1 small clove garlic, minced
  4. 1 TBSP minced parsley
  5. 1 TSP crushed red pepper or Aleppo chili
  6. 1 TSP lemon zest
  7. salt and pepper
  1. Place raisins and saffron in a bowl and cover with white wine. Let sit for at least 15 minutes (This will plump the raisins and bloom the saffron for maximum flavor.)
  2. Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  3. While pasta water is coming to a boil, heat oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
  4. Add fennel and onions to pan and sauté until vegetables begin to brown.
  5. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant.
  6. Add wine, saffron, and raisin mixture and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
  8. If using prawns, season them with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are cooked through.
  9. Add spinach and lemon juice to pan and cover to allow spinach to wilt
  10. Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water to vegetable mixture and toss to combine.
  11. Serve immediately topped with parsley and breadcrumb topping (if using).
Optional breadcrumb topping
  1. Heat olive oil on medium heat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy.
  3. Top each serving of pasta with breadcrumb mixture.
  1. *Regular or whole wheat pasta both work great here. My go-to pasta is a high-fiber white pasta - Ronzoni Smart Taste
  2. **I save the heels of sliced bread and any other bread products in a plastic bag in the freezer. When the bag is full or when I need breadcrumbs I put bread pieces in the food processor and process until medium fine. I keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer at all times so I have them whenever I need them for topping casseroles, or using on pasta dishes.

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