The crunch of breadcrumbs atop your pasta, along with a wave of flavors delivered by anchovies, piñon nuts, white wine and golden raisins, will have you cooking like a Southern Italian any night of the week. Pair this dish, which takes about 30-40 minutes to make, with a white wine from Italy's Campania region, such as Fiano di Avellino or Greco di Tufo. Serves four.
1/3 cup raw piñon (pine) nuts (buy them toasted if you want a shortcut)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (if you need a substitute, panko breadcrumbs work)
8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained, plus 8-10 additional for topping the pasta
2 large shallots, minced
1 small fennel bulb, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup white wine, such as Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo or Chardonnay
1 pound linguini
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed by hand
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1) Warm a large skillet to medium heat and add the raw pine nuts. Constantly stir the nuts until they turn golden, about two minutes, then set them aside on a paper towel to cool.
2) Using the same skillet, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, then add the breadcrumbs. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly, until they are golden brown, about three minutes, then set them aside in a bowl to cool.
3) Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water to boil in preparation for cooking the pasta.
4) Returning to your skillet, warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add 8 anchovy fillets, crushing them with your spoon as you stir, until the fillets dissolve, about two minutes. Add the shallots and fennel and stir until they are lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
5) Turn up the heat on the skillet to high, then add the white wine, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the wine has reduced by half. Lower the heat to medium.
6) Add the linguini to your pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 7-8 minutes.
7) Meanwhile, return to your skillet and add the golden raisins; crush the saffron threads into the mixture and stir.
8) Once the linguini is cooked, use a pair of tongs to carefully remove the pasta from the pot and add it directly into the mixture in the skillet, stirring as you go. It's fine to allow some of the pasta water into the skillet as you make the transfer.
9) Remove the skillet from the heat, then add the fresh dill, continuing to stir. Add salt to taste.
10 ) Place the pasta mixture into bowls. Top each bowl with 2-3 anchovy fillets, toasted pine nuts and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy with your favorite dry white wine.