There is a lot going on with this recipe. It has more ingredients than my previous sauces. I got to use fennel from my own garden, which was fun. The layers of flavor are intriguing - anchovies, raisins, pine nuts, onion, saffron, & sardines joined the fennel.
This is a repeat of the sauce recipe Irene reported on yesterday. Instead of tossing the sauce in cooked pasta, my assignment was to layer it with pasta as a baked dish, adding toasted almonds and whole browned sardine filets.
It was a pretty dish -- with a fatal flaw.
The pasta I chose points out that pasta selection isn't just about appearance. It's critical to the success of the dish. Since Marcella didn't suggest a specific pasta, and I though that the bucatini in Irene's version would be difficult to serve in a baked dish, I relied on my own faulty judgement and selected a beautiful large cavatappi. Mistake.
The sauce settled to the bottom of the baking dish because the pasta was too big and bulky. This made the dish appear very dry. I should have used a much smaller pasta. Next time I will.
Instead of serving a nice pretty, filet topped portion from the dish, I ended up dumping it into a bowl and mixing it to redistribute the sauce. Ah, well. What really counts is the flavor. And there was a lot of that.