Zuni Fideus with Wild Mushrooms and Peas

If you're thinking, why would a crazy lady make a dish with freshly shelled peas in August, you would be correct in the assumption pertaining to my sanity but incorrect about the date I made the dish.   In the excitement of the summer, I failed to post this recipe, and it truly is an oversight of epic proportions.  This fideus is that good.

Fideus, you ask.  Fideus is a Catalan pasta dish that is, for intents and purposes, paella that uses pasta instead of rice.  And it is delicious.

Specifically, fideus is a thin vermicelli-like pasta; if you cannot find traditional "fideus," simply pick up the thinnest pasta you can find and then break the strands into inch-long lengths.  Then toss them in oil and toast away. 

Then,  like with a risotto, add broth to the noodles until they soak it up, and then add some more.  And then add some more.  

But the best part about this recipe is the onion jam with saffron.  Gah.  However, one expects such treats from Judy Rodgers, our cookbook's writer and the chef and co-owner of our favorite restaurant, The Zuni.  (See here for my waxing on (and on) about the restaurant).

On a side, but still Spanish-related, note, I detailed my failed attempt to spend a Christmas in Barcelona here.  Someday, I shall finally get to gawk at Gaudi, eat bacalao, and sip cava at a street side cafe.  Until then, I am going to enjoy these final hours (we're down to about 60 of them) of summer by cooking some more and getting in a few last runs and yoga classes with friends.  Come on, there is no better way to end the summer.  Even if it's not in Spain. 

Oh, and you, too, can make this recipe any time of the year.  Just use frozen peas.  I won't tell.

One Year Ago: Quesadilla with Mushrooms and Asparagus

Two Years Ago: Peach Cobbler

Zuni Fideus with Wild Mushrooms and Peas
Adapted from  Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Serves 4

onion base
3 cups finely diced yellow onion
3 tbsp olive oil   (Judy Rodgers calls for 6, but I always find Zuni food to be over-oiled, you make the call)
1/4 cup chopped drained canned tomato or 1/2 cup shopped ripe tomato
Pinch saffron threads
3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 dried chiles, broken in half.

10 ounces cappellini broken into short pieces
2 tsp olive oil

finishing the dish
6 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (chanterelle, porcini or morel), cleaned and sliced 1/4″ thick
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup fresh peas
Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley


To make the onion jam:
1.  Heat the onions and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and stir well to combine. Heat until the onions begin to brown on the bottom, then stir again and reduce the heat to medium low.  Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are about 1/2 their original mass and are golden. Add a few pinches of salt.

2.  Stir in the tomato, garlic, chiles, and saffron. Continue cooking over the lowest heat for about an hour until it has the consistency of jam, adding a little water if it gets too dry. You should have about 1 cup.  The onion jam will keep for a week, covered and refrigerated.

To toast the noodles:
3.  Preheat the oven to 325 F.

4. Toss the noodles with the oil in a large bowl just to coat, and then spread evenly onto a baking sheet so the noodles are in a single layer. Heat in the oven until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool.

To finish the dish
5.  Turn the oven to 475 F.

6.  Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in an oven-proof pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook until they are tender but only slightly golden on the edges, 3-8 minutes. Add the garlic, onion base, noodles, and about 1 1/2 cups of broth. Simmer and stir until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add another 1 1/2 cups broth, and cook until absorbed. Add the parsley, peas and remaining broth, and turn the heat up to high, cooking until the liquid is absorbed.

7.  Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.


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