Yet again I am drawing on my memories of my visit to Barcelona. We ate fideos there that were similar to the way I made them at home this week. I hadn't made them in a long time, so I can't remember exactly how they were in Barcelona. But I think I did remember some of the key ingredients for making this vegetarian fideo dish. So I must confess that this recipe is in no way authentic. But it certainly turned out delicious! The ingredient that makes these fideos Spanish is pimenton dulce, mild Spanish paprika. I have seen it sold at the chain store World Market in the US.
Fideos are vermicelli pasta, otherwise known as angel hair. It comes in nests or in small pieces (like the version I used) or in long noodles that are a very thin version of spaghetti. They are fried first until they become golden and then liquid is added so they can finish cooking.
The end result is referred to as a sopa seca or a dry soup. Instead of ending with a dry soup, it's also possible to add some vegetable broth to the same recipe to end up with a liquid soup.
- 1 small package of fideos, vermicelli pasta, angel hair nests or angel hair pasta (I used 7 ounces)
- approximately 2 tablespoons oil or as needed
- 1/2 onion, chopped (I used red onion)
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons of pimenton dulce
- salt and pepper
- 1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes (I prefer fire roasted)*
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- about 1/2 to 1 cup water (or as needed - adding a bit at a time as the sauce gets too thick)
- optionally add 1 to 2 cups of vegetable broth for a liquid soup instead of a dry soup
- extra virgin olive oil
- shredded cheese
Heat the oil a large skillet. Add the onion and crushed garlic cloves. (I don't even bother peeling the garlic, the skins fall off by themselves when they fry, and then the peels can be easily picked out). Season with salt and pepper. When soft, either remove of the onions and set them aside or leave them in the pan, depending on how big your pan is. You want there to be plenty of surface area to fry the pasta.
Add the pasta to the hot pan with a bit more oil, if needed. Fry the pasta, stirring constantly so that it doesn't burn. First it will turn a lighter white shade, then it will turn golden brown. When most of the pasta is golden brown, add the pimenton dulce, the onions (if they had been set aside), the can of crushed tomatoes and some olive oil. When the sauce is hot and simmering, lower the heat to simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and sticking. Add water a bit at a time as the pasta absorbs the liquid to end up with a sopa seca.
For a liquid soup, add vegetable broth. Simmer uncovered until the pasta is the desired tenderness.
Season with more salt and pepper as needed and possibly more pimenton dulce, depending on desired spice level. When the pasta is the desired tenderness, you can remove the garlic cloves and chop into smaller pieces or leave them as they are, depending on your preference.
If desired, add a bit more extra virgin olive oil at the end and garnish with some shredded cheese.
*Note: you don't have to use canned tomatoes. You can add one or two chopped fresh tomatoes or chopped roasted fresh tomatoes and then add water or broth as needed for the pasta to have enough liquid to absorb.