Pasta with Fennel, Saffron and Raisins

Pasta with Fennel, Saffron and Raisins

This Sicilian-style pasta is a great venue for fennel. I also like this pasta with sardines.
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb fennel cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion thinly sliced
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3-4 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 TBSP parsley chopped
  • 1/2 package spaghetti or fettucini*
  • salt and pepper
  • 8-12 large prawns optional

Breadcrumb Topping (optional)

  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs**
  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small clove garlic minced
  • 1 TBSP minced parsley
  • 1 TSP crushed red pepper or Aleppo chili
  • 1 TSP lemon zest
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • 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.)
  • Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.
  • While pasta water is coming to a boil, heat oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat.
  • Add fennel and onions to pan and sauté until vegetables begin to brown.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add wine, saffron, and raisin mixture and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Season mixture with salt and pepper.
  • If using prawns, season them with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they are cooked through.
  • Add spinach and lemon juice to pan and cover to allow spinach to wilt
  • Add cooked pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water to vegetable mixture and toss to combine.
  • Serve immediately topped with parsley and breadcrumb topping (if using).

Optional breadcrumb topping

  • Heat olive oil on medium heat.
  • Add remaining ingredients and cook until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy.
  • Top each serving of pasta with breadcrumb mixture.

Notes

*Regular or whole wheat pasta both work great here. My go-to pasta is a high-fiber white pasta - Ronzoni Smart Taste
**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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