extra virgin olive oil • 5oz good spicy Italian salami, sliced • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds • 1 bulb of fennel, halved and finely sliced, feathery tops reserved and chopped • 2 14oz cans of plum tomatoes • optional: 1 dried chilli, crumbled • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper • 11b dried spaghetti or linguine • 2 handfuls of stale bread crumbs • optional: a sprig of fresh rosemary
Pour 2 good glugs of olive oil into a pan. Add your salami and your sliced garlic. Lightly crack the fennel seeds either in a mortar and pestle or with a knife and add to the pan. Cook for 1 minute on a low heat—the fat should cook out of the salami and it should begin to get crisp. Add your sliced fennel and stir, then put the lid on the pan and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes, then add your tomatoes and even a little dried chilli if you like. Cook slowly for 25 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Season to taste.
Cook your pasta in a large pot of fast-boiling salted water until al dente (check the package for cooking time). While it's cooking I like to make pangritata (crunchy breadcrumbs), to give this dish a great texture and crunch. Just get a couple of good handfuls of coarse bread crumbs—I do this by removing the crusts from some stale bread and whizzing them up in a food processor until kind of coarse. Fry the crumbs with 4 or 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until they go crispy. Sometimes I throw in some rosemary sprigs as well to give extra flavor. When your pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander and immediately toss it with your lovely tomato sauce. This is quite rich but very very tasty.
Serve in a large bowl and sprinkle with the green fennel tops and your crispy golden pangritata. Eat immediately, with a good glass of red wine.
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