This time of year I often find myself thinking of Spain.
The beautiful countryside, the sunflowers and the food! Of course, the food! With the recent news in the media about the Running of the Bulls in Pamploma, I’ve really been hankering for some Spanish cuisine. I thought about making paella, but that’s a lot of work. And then I thought of something with all the wonderful flavors of traditional paella, but much easier. Pasta!
If you think pasta is only for Italians and noodles are only for Asians, you’d be mistaken. The Spanish word for noodle is fideo. The crafty Spaniards use fideo in all sorts of recipes–especially soups, casseroles. My favorite is cazuela, which is a casserole traditionally cooked in a large earthenware pot. The pot itself is actually called a cazuela, as well, just as the word paella refers to the pan the rice and other ingredients are cooked in for the dish paella. Cazuela can include seafood, chicken, or pork and sausages (or a combination); again, similar to paella. And don’t forget the Spanish saffron and paprika.
The noodles absorb the flavors much quicker than the rice and cook faster, too, so it’s a simpler dish to make, with all the wonderful flavors of Spain!
Spanish Fideo with Shrimp and Mussels
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 12 oz fideo (if you can only find coils, break them into 1-2 inch pieces)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or about ½ can of diced tomatoes, with juice)
- 1 large pinch Spanish saffron threads
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 lb green lip mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined (you can leave tails on or remove)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Lemon slices or wedges for garnish
In a very large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fideo and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fideo begins to brown (5-7 minutes). Add the garlic and tomatoes and allow to cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the saffron, paprika and garlic, and stir for a minute more. Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan. When the wine is evaporated, add the mussels and about 1 cup stock, stir briefly; cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid and stir again. The mussels should have opened. Depending on how much liquid the mussels release, you may need to add a little more liquid. Continue to cook and stir until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes. Add the shrimp cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Add liquid as needed (if you prefer a “wetter” pasta dish, add a little stock at a time until you get the consistency you want). Stir in parsley, taste and adjust seasoning, and serve with lemon wedges.