Sopa de Fideo, a popular Mexican comfort food (photo courtesy http://BudgetBytes.com).  A bowl of plain fideo (photo courtesy CookDiary.net).  Barilla makes fideo, as well as Hispanic specialists like Goya (photo courtesy Barilla).
October is National Pasta Month, an occasion to explore and try different types of pasta. May we suggest fideo?
What is fideo (fee-DAY-yo)?
Fideo spaghetti tagliati means fideo-cut spaghetti. Fideo is a Spanish word for noodle, so essentially, the spaghetti is being cut like noodles (i.e., short strands).
The actual pasta used is short-cut vermicelli: thin strands of pasta available in one- or two-inch lengths, depending on manufacturer. Vermicelli is a round strand pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair.
Fideo is popular in Mexican cuisine, where it is also called fidelini (and “Mexican spaghetti” by Americans).
You can also break up your own from spaghetti, vermicelli or other thin strand pasta, including including ribbon (flat) pasta like linguine. Some people prefer the eye appeal of the irregular, hand-broken shapes.
What makes it extra-special in savory recipes is quickly toasting the noodles in a bit of olive oil. It produces a nutty, toasty extra depth of flavor that’s another reason to enjoy fideo.
WAYS TO USE FIDEO
Fideo is a Mexican comfort food that can be served as a starter or a main dish ingredient. It is perhaps best known as a toasted soup pasta, popular in Sopa de Fideo, a classic bowl of comfort.
As a stand-in for rice, it versatile to be used in anything from fideo “risotto” (recipe below) to fideo “rice pudding.”
What could be more comforting than tomato soup with fideo? Here’s a recipe from. .
Fideo Con Carne, a beef and potato stew with crunchy fideo noodles
Fideo Paella: exchange the rice for toasted fideo and your choice of mix-ins: clams, chorizo, green peas, mussels, sausage, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. The dish, which originated in Spain, is called fideua (FID-a-wah).
Guisado, the Spanish word for stew, can take many forms, including a classic Mexican beef stew of beef and potatoes with fideo.
Tomato Soup With Fideo.
Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, a fusion of a Spanish classic with Japanese grilled sticky rice cakes from chef Ilan Hall.
Quick casseroles—check out this classic with chickpeas, kale, jalapeños and olives (i.e., toss in anything you like).
MIX AND MATCH
Put together your own fideo recipe with:
Base: broth (beef, chicken, vegetable), tomato sauce
Herbs and spices: chiles/chili powder/hot sauce, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper
Proteins: chicken, fish/seafood, ground meat, stew meat, tofu
Vegetables: bell peppers, capers, carrots, celery, chickpeas, chiles, corn, lima beans, onions, olives, peas, potatoes, squash, tomates
Garnish: shredded cheese, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins/dried cherries or cranberries
After you pick your ingredients, the recipe cooks quickly:
1. HEAT cooking oil in a skillet; when the oil shimmers, add the pasta and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.
2. ADD the sauce or other base, vegetables, spices and herbs. When all vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add in the cheese.
3. STIR in the cooked protein (cubed, diced, shredded) or use the cooked fideo as a base for the protein.
RECIPE: FIDEO RISOTTO
“What’s not to love about toasted noodles infused with a pinch of cumin and a hint of rich tomatoes?” asks Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, who developed this recipe.
“Typically served dry as a side dish or flooded with broth as a soup, my preference falls somewhere in between; a thick stew of vegetables and pasta that could be eaten either with a spoon or a fork, depending on how long the noodles are cooked.
“Taking that concept just one step further, you can make a risotto—just without the rice.”
Fideo takes on a uniquely nutty taste thanks to a quick sauté before cooking. Hannah mingles the flavors of roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cumin “to render a wholly warming, revitalizing bowl full of edible comfort” that she finds even more satisfying than a bowl of risotto.
Hannah developed this as a vegan recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. We added the option of grated parmesan cheese.
Ingredients For 3-4 Main Servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups (1/2 pound) broken or cut spaghetti
1/2 large red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
1 Red or Orange Bell pepper, Roasted, seeded and diced
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup corn kernels, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, grated parmesan cheese
1. PLACE half of the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add in the pasta and stir to coat.
2. SAUTÉ the noodles, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pot and set aside.
3. RETURN the pot to the stove and add the remaining oil. Cook the onions and garlic together until softened and aromatic. Introduce the tomatoes and both roasted peppers next, stirring periodically. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden.
4. ADD the vegetable broth, tequila, lime juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, and cumin. Bring the liquid to a boil before returning the toasted noodles to the pot. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
5. SIMMER gently until the pasta is tender and the liquid mostly absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the corn and cilantro.
6. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with optional garnish.
WHAT IS NUTRITIONAL YEAST?
Nutritional yeast is—as the name implies—a form of yeast that can be used on foods and in recipes. It is a vegan product.
It’s an inactive form of the same yeast strain—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—use to leaven bread. It has also been pasteurized to dry out the yeast and concentrate its nutritional benefits.
Find it at health food, natural food and vitamin stores.
It can be labeled yeast flakes, yeast seasoning.
These golden flakes add flavor as nutrition, and are used by people seeking dairy- and cholesterol-free options to conventional cheeses.
You can add savory, cheesy, nutty flavors by sprinkling nutritional yeast on pasta, salads, vegetables and other foods (popcorn, anyone?).
Or use it instead of cheese in cooking and baking.
 Fideo risotto from Bittersweet Blog.  Toasting the fideo is a snap (photo courtesy BudgetBytes.com).  Fusion fideo: Fried shrimp cakes combine Spanish and Japanese concepts, using fideo instead of rice. Here’s the recipe from Chef Ilan Hall on FoodAndWine.com.  Nutritional yeast. You can buy it locally or online. Bragg’s, is also OU kosher.