A Radically Delicious Recipe: Golden Fettuccine with Sardines, Fennel & Saffron

A happy accident:  Boiling pasta in turmeric-&-saffron-dyed water imparts a glorious goldenrod hue. It makes a beautiful nest for a Riviera-inspired sauce of tomatoes, sardines, and fennel. Sometimes I add a splash of anisette to the sauce as it simmers, and once I tried limoncello! Not bad at all. Since there are bushy fresh fennel fronds all over the farmer's market, you can intensify the experience by chopping the fronds into the sauce or add a sprinkling on top. Make sure to use fresh fettuccine as it best absorbs the golden color.  And turmeric is an important spice, having numerous health benefits and being used in the treatment of everything from cancer to Alzheimer's disease. I keep a copious amount in my pantry. 28-ounce can plum tomatoes in puree 3-1/2 ounces skinless boneless sardines in olive oil 1 large garlic clove large pinch cayenne 1 teaspoon fennel seeds heaping 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads 1 tablespoon turmeric 8 ounces fresh fettuccine 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Combine the tomatoes with the puree, sardines and their oil, garlic (pushed through a press or grated on a microplane), and cayenne in a large saucepan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the fennel seeds and half of the saffron. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes over high heat, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a potato masher. Meanwhile, add the turmeric and remaining saffron to the boiling water and simmer 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook 5 minutes, until tender. Drain well, shake dry, and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the hot tomato sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with the cheese and remaining 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. Serves 4