A few years ago, we spent a week in a small town called Tarragona, just south of Barcelona. Right on the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea, it is not only is located in a most beautiful area of Spain, but also has a fascinating Roman history. And like most European cities, it boasts a gorgeous town square, that comes to live in the evenings. Locals meet up, sit in one of the many outdoor restaurants and bars, visit with each other, and enjoy their vermouth along with some olives and potato chips.
The Spanish people do love their vermouth!
One of those evenings, while sipping some delicious vermouth and watching the world go by, we noticed the restaurant “El Pigot” across the town square. Hungry, after a day of exploring the Roman aqueduct, the ancient city walls and an incredible Roman History Museum, we stopped by to take a look at the menu. The owner came out, and after explaining that we were vegetarians, she let us know that she could make anything we want vegetarian! Super cool!
We grabbed a table, and decided to try the “Fideuà”, also often spelled Fideos. I had been curious to try this for a long time, but had never seen it on a menu before. Here was my chance, and I’m glad I took it!
El Pigot was one of the culinary highlights of our Spain trip. Not a Michelin Star type of place, but some of the best down-to-earth, flavorful and fresh cuisine I’ve encountered.
I can’t believe how long it took me to finally recreate this meal! Fideos is just like a paella. The difference between it and paella are the noodles. I found mine at Fred Meyer, and they worked perfectly for this dish.
My Fideuà was every bit as good as the one I had in Tarragona.
This Spanish dish comes together fairly quickly, and you can be somewhat flexible with the ingredients. The important part is to season the dish well, and to not stir too much, once you add the pasta to the sofrito. If you don’t have a paella pan, use a wide skillet to make this. If asparagus isn’t in season, use green beans or whatever looks good at the market. A can of rinsed and drained fava beans (whole) would also make a neat addition.
Here is the recipe
- olive oil
- 8 oz Fideo noodles (Vermicelli)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used a mixture of wild ones)
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (spicy or mild)
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 large bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of saffron
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- a little feta cheese if desired
Heat a little olive oil in the paella pan over medium high heat.
Add the pasta, and cook it for several minutes until it turns golden brown.
Stir to prevent the pasta from burning.
Transfer the vermicelli to a paper towel lined plate and reserve.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan.
Sauté the onion until soft and fragrant.
Next, add the garlic, smoked paprika, parsley and bell peppers and mushrooms.
Also add the saffron and turmeric if using.
Cook a few more minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, broth, a little salt, pepper and the pasta.
Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the asparagus and gently mix it in.
Simmer until the asparagus is tender and most of the liquid is gone.
Preheat the broiler.
If you are using an oven-proof pan, place it under the flame and broil for a few minutes to get a nice crispy top.
If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the Fideos to a dish that is and broil until lightly crispy on the top.
Keep a close eye on the broiler! It can go rather quickly from crispy to burnt!
Remove from oven and let the pan rest for a few minutes before serving.
Serve sprinkled with a little extra parsley and/or crumbled feta cheese.