Did you know that there are over 91,800,000 recipes floating around the Internet? Well, Google says so, and that’s good enough for me. Despite that staggering number of choices, I usually find myself gravitating towards the same dozen or so sites when looking for some culinary inspiration. They offer interesting, diverse and more importantly, reliable content.
A couple of years ago, I came across a recipe on Simply Recipes that just seemed to call out to me from my computer screen. It was a pasta dish called Vermicelli, and it intrigued me because it looked so tasty and seemed very easy to prepare.
Vermicelli is a long, thin pasta which is kind of a cross between super thin angel hair and spaghetti. It is often sold in little round bundles or “nests” which, depending on the brand you buy, are also called Angel Hair Nests. Instead of being boiled in water, like most pasta dishes, Elise’s version calls for the vermicelli nests to be toasted in a little oil before tomatoes and broth are added. This technique is commonly used in Spanish and Mexican cuisine. In fact, the dish very closely resembles Sopa Seca de Fideos, a “dry” Mexican noodle soup, and Fiduea, a Catalan noodle dish that is similar to paella, with the toasted noodles in place of the rice.
I have made Elise’s Vermicelli many, many times in several various incarnations since then. I love recipes like this that can be adapted in so many different ways! I usually serve it as a main course, adding chicken, seafood or beans to round it out. It has become a family favorite and is perfect for a busy weeknight meal.
The last time I prepared it, I decided it would be fun to give the dish a bit of a Mexican flair. Instead of fresh tomatoes, I used Rotel tomatoes, which are canned, diced tomatoes seasoned with chilies and spices. For my protein, I added a spicy chipotle smoked sausage as well as garbanzo beans. Chorizo would also work well, although I find it to be a drier product. If I had thought about it beforehand, I probably would have added some lovely pink shrimp to the dish too. I also mixed some dry white wine with the chicken broth called for in the original recipe. I tweaked the recipe a little in a few other ways as well, because I’m just funny that way.
My Fideos Ole, as I like to call it, received rave reviews from my family! I have to admit that I thought it turned out pretty darn terrific. If you’re looking for fast, easy and delicious, this is the dish for you!
liberally adapted from Simply Recipes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lb angel hair nests
1 lb chorizo or spicy smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (I used this one from Hillshire Farms)
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies (I use Rotel tomatoes.)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted Manzanilla olives (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet (at least 12-14 inches) over medium-high heat. Place the nests into the skillet in a single layer and fry until golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes per side). Remove pasta from the pan and set aside.
- In the same oil, fry the sausage rounds until lightly browned on both sides. Remove and keep with the pasta nests.
- Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until lightly browned. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, wine, smoked paprika and thyme. Mix well and bring to a boil.
- When boiling, mix in pasta nests and sausage and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the pasta has soaked up the liquid and is tender, about 25 minutes. Then, add the garbanzo beans and olives, (if using), cover and cook a minute or two more until heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 6 as a main course.