January 19, 2020
‘Fideos’ is both a dish from Spain and a short, spaghetti-like noodle that is usually toasted. Toasting gives the noodles a warm golden color and a deep rich flavor. And it is very easy to accomplish in your home kitchen.
The recipe includes a simple and quick-cooking shrimp stock. Both the toasted noodles and the peeled shrimp are cooked in this broth which builds in a supporting layer of flavors to the finished dish.
A traditional Catalan sweet red pepper sauce, Romesco*, adds body and a bright punch of flavor to the finished dish.
1-pound spaghetti (not angel hair)
1-pound shrimp, size U-10/12, shell-on
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium Spanish or white onion, peeled & diced
1 stalk celery, washed & cut into ½-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled & flattened with back of knife
½ teaspoon fennel seeds, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
Fresh black pepper from the mill
small pinch of hot red pepper flakes
2 strips of lemon peel
juice of one whole lemon
2 strips fresh orange peel
juice of ½ whole orange
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
Optional: a few fresh parsley stems, if available
4-5 ounces fresh baby spinach, cleaned
Romesco* sauce ingredients
16-18 ounces jarred/canned roasted red peppers
2 ounces bread cubes, about 1-inch square pieces (OK to leave the crusts on)
3 ounces Spanish Marcona almonds * (see note) or 3 ounces whole, blanched & toasted almonds
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup great tasting extra virgin olive oil, divided (plus more as needed)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to your liking
make the romesco sauce
Quickly rinse the jarred/canned roasted red peppers and pat dry. (You may, of course prepare your own roasted red peppers.)
Assemble the rest of the ingredients: Peel and mince the garlic clove. Chop the almonds into smaller pieces. Cut the bread into cubes and coat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and toast in a 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes or until bread cubes are toasted. (Alternately, you could fry the bread cubes in a sauté pan on the stove top. This will take more oil than toasting the bread in the oven.)
Add all the ingredients to a food processor, EXCEPT the olive oil. Pulse the machine and process to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you have achieved a creamy, rich texture. Taste and adjust seasoning: more spice, more salt & pepper, etc ??
toast the dried spaghetti
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grab a sheet pan with sides. Hold ‘clumps’ of dried spaghetti over the sheep pan and break in half. Repeat, letting each ‘clump’ fall onto the sheet pan. Shake the sheet pan so the pasta falls in a single layer. Toast the noodles in the pre-heated oven for 5-7 minutes or until pasta has turned golden brown. Shake the pan a couple of times during the toasting process to get an even browning.
Remove and let cool in the pan.
prepare the shrimp
Give the shrimp a very quick rinse in a strainer/colander under cold running water. Shake off excess water. Peel the shells and reserve. Rinse and pat-dry. SAVE the SHELLS !
‘Butterfly’ the shrimp: one by one, lay a shrimp down on a cutting board and cut in half along the outside curve. You will have 2 identical pieces of shrimp. Remove the black vein and discard. Give the shrimp another quick rinse. Shake off excess moisture and refrigerate while you proceed with recipe.
prepare the shrimp stock/broth
Heat a 3 or 4-quart pot over low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. To the pot, add the chopped onion, celery, crushed garlic clove and fennel seeds. Stir to combine. Add a pinch of kosher salt and cook over medium-low until vegetables are slightly softened (but have no color).
Add the reserved shrimp shells to the pot and cook for a minute or two or until the shells have turned rosy-pink.
Add 8-cups cold water to the pot along with 2 strips of fresh lemon peel and the juice of one lemon. Add the 2 strips of orange peel and the juice of ½ of the orange.
Bring the broth to a quick boil and immediately turn the pot down to a simmer.
Add the bay leaf and the parsley stems if you have them.
Simmer the broth for 20-25 minutes
cooking the shrimp & the toasted noodles
Strain the broth into a clean pot. Taste for seasoning and add fresh cracked black pepper and a pinch more salt.
Lay the shrimp out on a plate and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring the broth back to a simmer over medium heat and add the shrimp to the broth. Poach the shrimp. Poaching means to gently cook at a bare-simmer until the shrimp pieces just become white and barely firm. Use a slotted spoon and remove cooked shrimp to a clean plate. Set aside.
Turn the heat up under the broth to a boil. Add the reserved toasted noodles. Stir to prevent sticking and cook noodles until ‘al dente’ or cooked but firm to the tooth. Strain and reserve the shrimp broth/cooking liquid. SAVE the BROTH!
Quickly return cooked noodles back to the still-warm pot. Add ½ cup of broth back to the pot along with the reserved, cooked shrimp. With heat on very low, stir to combine noodles and re-warm the shrimp.
Add the fresh baby spinach to the pot with a pinch of salt and stir to wilt the spinach.
Turn off heat.
Add a couple of tablespoons of Romesco Sauce to the pot and stir again to combine thoroughly.
You can drizzle in more of the reserved shrimp/cooking broth, if you like, to adjust texture of finished dish to your liking.
Serve in warmed bowl(s) with extra Romesco Sauce on the side.
*Marcona Almonds: an almond variety, commonly grown in Spain that is short, round and a bit sweeter than our California almonds. Traditionally they are fried in olive oil, salted and eaten as a snack.
*Romesco Sauce: from Spain, a chunky pesto-like sauce made with roasted red peppers and thickened with almonds and toasted bread. It is flavored with smoked paprika, cayenne and sherry vinegar.
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