Campanelle with Fennel and Saffron is a classic Sicilian dish, served in almost every restaurant on the island. Wild fennel, which has a more distinctive flavor than its cultivated cousin, is commonly used in Sicily. In the interest of convenience, we've used readily available cultivated fennel plus fennel seeds to boost the flavor.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Rinse and trim the fennel, discarding the stems but reserving the fronds and bulbs. Chop the fronds; divide and set aside.
Add fennel bulbs to the boiling water; cook 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to an ice bath; dice bulbs and set aside.
Return the water to a boil; add the pasta and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until cooked al dente; about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid.
While pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet; add the onions, fennel seeds and half of the reserved chopped fronds; saute until onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Combine the saffron with 1½ tablespoons warm water; add to the skillet. Stir in reserved diced fennel bulbs; simmer over low heat until fennel is tender; about 15 minutes. Add currants (or raisins) and pine nuts. If mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta liquid.
Add cooked pasta and remaining reserved chopped fronds to the skillet; toss and cook to heat through. Drizzle with remaining oil; taste and adjust seasonings. Serve in warmed bowls.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.