The dry hills around Barcelona. A thirteenth century villa. A barbecue and an autumn breeze. And then, to top it all off, Fideuà – the pasta version of paella. What a night – and what a recipe to bring home with me. Make it on a barbecue, an open fire, or on your hotplate. It’s ridiculously easy for something that looks so good. Just make it.
- 150 ml cava
- Pinch saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 500 gm fideo (similar to vermicelli) pasta – preferably 1/2 squid ink
- 2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 small red chillies, thinly sliced
- 4 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 500 ml fish stock (and a little in reserve, just in case your pasta is very absorbent)
- 700 g mussels, scrubbed and beards removed (approx 10-12)
- 700 g large prawns – cleaned but still in shell (approx 14)
- 400g calamari, cleaned and sliced into 1cm rings
- salt and pepper
- Add the saffron threads to the Cava (*see note) and set aside
- Get your hotplate/barbecue to a high heat, then place a cast iron pan (or fry pan) on top for a minute or so until it too is very hot. Place in half of your olive oil, giving it a moment to heat, then add garlic and onion and fry until it starts to brown, then add the tomatoes and prawns, tossing through until the tomatoes start to dry out, next the calamari, only cooking for as long as it starts to colour.
- Deglaze the pan with the cava mix, stirring well to get the flavours through until the pan is dry again, then add the rest of the ingredients, finishing with the pasta.
- Cook on a lower heat, stirring every now and then, until the pasta completely absorbs the juice, and is al-dente. If the pasta is not al-dente by the time the juice is absorbed, add more stock. The mussels should have opened by this time. If they have not, take them to the side and cook for a few minutes in a covered pan with a little stock, then add back in.
- Arrange the prawns and mussels in the pan, drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve with crusty bread and vibrant company.
- This recipe is quite large, and will serve around 8 people. Feel free to halve it.
- Yes, this is cooked with the lid off. If however, you are losing too much steam, you may need extra stock. Also try turning down your heat.
- Fideuà often includes squid ink in the recipe. I prefer it done this way, with the ink in the pasta – it’s a little more subtle. If you cannot find a squid-ink vermicelli, then use a plain one, and possibly add a dash of the ink, which can usually be purchased in gourmet stores in sachets.
- Ingredients are fairly easy to substitute. Some like slices of chorizo instead of prawns. Some like fish instead of calamari (use something firm and white like shark or swordfish), or maybe baby calamari instead of the rings of adult calamari. Like paella, this dish can also be made with chicken or rabbit.
- Maybe you enjoy a smokey flavour? If this is the case, you may wish to use smoked paprika instead of sweet, or possibly some chipotle chillies (this is veering a little from the traditional recipe however!)
- Cava is a sparkling Spanish wine, usually dry and similar to Champagne in style. It can be substituted for any sparkling wine, or if you wish to keep it alcohol free, some verjus or dry sparkling apple juice. Fino sherry is also a wonderful flavour base.