1. Preheat oven to gas mark 6, 200’c.
2. Place the sultanas in a bowl, add hot water and set aside to soak.
3. Cook the whole fennel in lightly salted boiling water for 15-20 min’s, drain & chop, reserving the cooking liquid for later.
4. Sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 min’s, stirring occasionally, add the chopped salted anchovies and mash together with a wooden spoon.
5. Drain the sultanas and squeeze out the excess liquid, add to the onion mixture along with the pine nuts and chopped fennel, sprinkle with the saffron, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 15 mins.
6. Butterfly the fresh sardines, opening them out like the pages of a book, leave them attached along their backs.
7. Rinse well, pat dry, dust with flour, and shake off any excess flour.
8. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large pan 180-190’c, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds
9. Add the sardines and deep fry until golden brown, remove and drain on kitchen paper, season with a little salt
10. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil
11. Boil the ziti in a large pan of salted boiling water and the reserved fennel cooking water until the pasta is al dente.
12. Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan and add half the sauce and mix thoroughly
13. Spoon a layer of pasta into the prepared dish and then add a layer of sardines and continue this way until all ingredients are used ending with a layer of the sauce
14. Bake for ten minutes and serve
Recipe supplied by San Carlo
200g wild fennel (sliced)
2tbsp olive oil (extra for brushing)
1 onion (chopped)
4 salted anchovies fillets (heads removed, soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained)
25g pine nuts
1/2 sachet saffron powder
350g fresh sardines (scaled and cleaned)
Plain flour for dusting
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
300g ziti (dried pasta)