Above: Fideo is simple comfort food all the way, made with ingredients you probably have in the pantry right now; photo by Robin Catalano.
Remember when cooking channels first became a big thing in the 1990s? Me neither. I’m far too young for that.
Kidding, of course. My mature-enough-to-know-better self spent way too much time watching those channels, and furiously scribbling down the recipes while the chefs demonstrated.
So, I’m sad to report, I don’t remember from which show I originally got this fideo recipe—a noodle dish popular in many Spanish-speaking countries.
I remember only that it’s a Cuban take on the recipe, that I’ve messed around with different proportions and ingredients enough to diverge from the original, and that it’s still the ultimate three-step comfort food, whether or not you veganize it. Just toast the noodles, buzz the vegetables in the blender, pop it in the oven, and you’re done.
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 box thin spaghetti
2 large tomatoes, diced (2 cups canned diced tomatoes work just fine, too)
1 large yellow onion
2 cloves garlic (or substitute 1/2 – 1 tsp garlic powder)
1–3 jalapeños, depending on the level of heat you prefer
2 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large, deep-sided pan or pot over medium. With your hands, break the spaghetti into 3-inch pieces. When the oil begins to shimmer, toast the spaghetti on both sides, until golden. Transfer the noodles to a casserole dish.
2. Rough chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and jalapeno, then put them in a blender or food processor. Pulse till the vegetables are broken down, then add the broth and process until mostly smooth; leave a few chunks for texture. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Pour the mixture evenly over the noodles. Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the noodles are tender and the sauce is bubbling.
Beverage suggestion: Pisco sour