25 g/1 oz sultanas 200 g/7 oz wild fennel
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing 1 onion, chopped
4 salted anchovies, heads removed, cleaned and filleted , soaked in cold water for 10 minutes and drained
25 g/1 oz pine nuts
1/2 sachet saffron powder 350 g/12 oz fresh sardines, scaled and cleaned plain flour, for dusting
vegetable oil, for deep-frying 300 g/11 oz ziti (long tubes of dried pasta) salt


1.Place the sultanas in a bowl, add hot water to cover and set aside to soak. Cook the fennel in lightly salted, boiling water for 15-20 minutes, then drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and chop.
2.Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the anchovies to the pan and mash with a wooden spoon.
3.Drain the sultanas, squeezing out the excess liquid, and add to the pan with the fennel and pine nuts.
4.Sprinkle with the saffron, cover and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Open the sardines out like the pages of a book, leaving them attached along their backs. Rinse well, pat dry and dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
5. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large pan to 180-190°C/350-375°F or until a cube of day-old bread browns in 30 seconds. Add the sardines and deep-fry until golden brown, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
6. Season with a little salt. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Cook the ziti in a large pan of salted, boiling water mixed with the reserved fennel cooking water until al dente, then drain, return to the pan and stir in half the sauce.
7. Spoon a layer of pasta on to the base of the prepared dish and place a layer of sardines on lop. Add a layer of the sauce and continue making layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of sauce. Bake for 10 minutes.

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