I’m a relatively old dog who loves a new trick, especially when it comes to ingredients. Before I made fideuà, I always used to boil my pasta. Fideuà is a traditional Valencian dish much like paella, but made with pasta, which is cooked by being submerged in stock and gently bathed to perfect tenderness. In this recipe, I’ve used fennel, pepper and my old teammates, onion and garlic, to bring up the rear, with fruity kalamata olives and artichokes striding out front. It’s a meal worthy of a fiesta for old dogs and all.
You can’t rush the breaking of the pasta, so enlist the help of a conscientious child, if you have one. You’ll need a 26cm-diameter nonstick frying pan for this.
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
5 tbsp olive oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 large fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 romano peppers (300g; or normal red peppers), stalk, pith and seeds removed and discarded, flesh chopped into 4cm pieces
1¾ tsp fine sea salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 small glass dry white wine (125ml)
1 x 280g jar artichokes in oil, drained
20 kalamata olives, pitted and halved
10g fresh dill, finely chopped
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
Over a large bowl, break the pasta into 3cm-long pieces and set aside.
Put the oil in a wide, nonstick frying pan over a medium heat and, once it’s hot, add the onion, fennel, peppers and salt, and cook, stirring every now and then, for 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for another five minutes, then mix in the paprika and tomato puree, and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly because it will start to stick (those sticky bits are very delicious). Add the wine, then scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the sticky bits and incorporate them into the mix.
Stir in the spaghetti until every strand is covered in the sauce, then layer the artichokes and olives on top in a pleasing, decorative way. Pour over 700ml water, shake the pan to settle the water, then bring to a boil, which should take two to three minutes. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has evaporated from the bottom of the pan (the spaghetti should start to rise up vertically when it’s ready, but if it doesn’t, eat a couple of strands to check). To check if the water has evaporated, poke the handle of a wooden spoon down to the bottom of the mix to see.
Serve the fideuà straight from the pan, topped with the finely chopped dill and with four wedges of lemon placed at points north, east, south and west of the pan.