For the love of Paella! My paella pan is 15 years old. It is one of my favorite kitchen toys. Everything looks impressive in it (wow!) I am convinced you can serve just about anything in this huge rustic pan and your guests will automatically be impressed. Every now and then, I whip it out and it reminds me of all the dishes I have cooked for friends and family. I even dragged it along to a trip we made to Kings Canyon National Park, in the middle of the forest on a camping stove, there I was cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner in my paella pan. It is like an old friend. Today as I prepared this dish all the memories played through my mind and I am convinced that this recipe turned out extra delicious because of the montage that played in my head as I cooked. Vermicelli pasta replaces rice in this Spanish dish known as Fideudá, like my pan, it is one of my favorites.
- 1 pound of vermicelli pasta
- 6 ripe roma tomatoes
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 medium diced onion
- 4 sun chokes (optional)
- 2 bunches of asparagus
- 8 jarred roasted piquillo peppers
- 1 tbsp capers
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- fresh parsley
- pinch of saffron threads
- salt/ pepper to taste
- olive oil
Step 1 – crush saffron threads and place in 3 tbsp of water, set aside; In a paella pan ( or large skillet) heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add your vermicelli pasta; toast pasta over a low to medium heat tossing constantly to prevent burning. This step is vital to the final texture of this dish, pasta should be separate and firm to the bite, never mushy. So toast it like you mean it. Transfer toasted pasta to a separate dish and reserve for later.
Step 2 – In the same pan that you toasted your pasta add 2 tsp olive oil and saute asparagus; peel the sunchokes, slice and add to the pan, add a pinch of salt and pepper, cook until asparagus is a bit charred and sun chokes are golden brown in some spots, remove from pan and reserve.
Step 3 – In a blender place tomatoes, garlic and 1 cup of water, process until smooth; add 2 tsp olive oil to the same pan, add your onion and cook until soft and slightly golden; add the tomato purée, tomato paste, saffron, 2 tsp salt, pinch of black pepper, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes; stir in pasta, arrange asparagus, sunchokes and capers, chopped piquillo peppers on top and add enough vegetable broth to cover everything.
Step 4 – cover and cook on medium heat until all liquid is absorbed, shaking the pan occasionally, about 10 minutes; uncover sprinkle fresh chopped parsley and let cool before serving to allow pasta to firm up.
Take your paella pan to the table with some lemon wedges and enjoy!