/FEE DAY WA/. Fideuà. Paella's little known cuter cousin is one of my favourite weeknight dinner discoveries since moving to Spain almost three years ago. This, a small victory in my Spanish vegan cooking repertoire, Fideuà is also traditionally made with noodles similar in diameter to angel hair pasta but only 2" in length. I came upon a gluten free version in my local supermarket and so began playing with this recipe to make one of the quickest and most comforting Autumn/Winter dinners imaginable. Of course this is normally made with fish stock, seafood and chicken or rabbit meat, but being in Wonderland means not eating the bunnies, so this will be a plant based version of the most delicious kind, add prawns, bunnies or chickens at your peril.
Let's cut to the chase, this recipe is very simple but requires full attention at the stove, that said you can throw it together in 30 minutes or so and kids also love a baked noodle so it's good for feeding a small clan. I recommend you use a paella pan (paellera) or a large, shallow skillet or frypan. First you make a sofrito, the Spanish sauce base for many traditional dishes. It would normally contain some diced peppers but I'm not a big fan so there aren't any in this recipe, add them in with the onions if you like, red ones diced small would make the sauce even redder and richer! The alioli is a great hit of flavour and creaminess to add to the comfort factor, I have adapted the best vegan mayonnaise recipe from Serious Eats, but upped the garlic factor. You can play around with the toppings too, not everyone loves alioli (aoli), a healthier version could have a dollop of greek yogurt or some grated parmesan would be nice if you are doing the dairy thang. Vegan parm would also be good, I like this simple one from Minimalist Baker. Without further waffle from me, let's make this thing!
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
½ onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
A pinch of saffron threads
1-2 tablespoons almond or hazelnut meal
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
4 tablespoons of tomato passata or crushed tomatoes drained of excess liquid
1 cup of vegetables ( I use a mixture of peas or fava beans, thinly chopped asparagus and/or cherry tomatoes sliced in half)*
2 cups fideo noodles (gluten free or regular)**
2 cups stock or water, heated gently
1 extra cup water, just boiled
*Optional - 1 cup of cooked chick peas added with the vegetables make it a heartier meal or will bulk it up to feed more mouths. This recipe serves 2 for dinner so multiply accordingly to serve more.
**If you can’t find fideos in your neck of the woods, try thin angel hair pasta and crush it up in your hands into little pieces about 2” long. (As long as it’s quick cooking pasta, 6-8 minutes).
Olives - kalamata, gordal or manzanilla go well
Italian parsley, torn with hands
Alioli (see recipe below)
In a large paella pan (paelllera) or large oven proof skillet, sauté diced onions in olive oil, until translucent. Add minced garlic and cook at medium low heat, for about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, almond meal, sweet paprika, garlic powder and cook on medium low heat until thick and bubbly (1-2 minutes). This is called the sofrito: a sauce base staple in Spanish and Italian cooking.
In the meantime, gently warm stock on the stove next to your paellera. Take saffron threads and grind them slightly with a mortar and pestle to break them up a little, take a ladle full of the stock and soak the saffron in a small bowl until you're ready to use it (2-3 minutes at least). Set aside.
Add vegetables and chickpeas if using, to the tomato ‘sofrito’ and sauté for a few minutes, add saffron and stir in gently. Add the noodles and give everything a big stir until the noodles are coated and evenly turning red.
Then pour over stock until noodles are well covered but not drowning. Add the extra water if you need to. Turn heat to a low bubble/simmer. Let simmer until noodles are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat and place pan under the grill for a few minutes on medium heat to brown the top slightly and absorb the last of the liquid.
Serve immediately in the pan, sprinkle over olives and parsley and enjoy with some fresh lemon and alioli to drizzle over as you nosh.
3-4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons of aguafaba (the liquid from 1 can of chickpeas), plus 12 whole chickpeas
1/2 cup vegetable oil (sunflower or grape seed oil works well)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine garlic, lemon juice, mustard, chickpea liquid, and chickpeas in a tall container just large enough to fit the head of an immersion blender. Blend at high speed until completely blended, then with the blender on its lowest setting, drizzle vegetable oil in slowly. A smooth, creamy emulsion should form.
Using a rubber spatula, transfer to a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Should be thick and hold its shape like egg mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mayonnaise will keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week.