The recipe for PBS’ popular prime-time series On the Road Again is simple: Take two food-obsessed friends—Mario Batali and Mark Bittman—add American actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols, and send the four on a road trip through Spain to discover the country’s regional cuisine, art, and history. Besides the TV series the trip also provided fodder for Spain: A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali with Gwyneth Paltrow (Ecco/HarperCollins).
Among the stopovers was Restaurante Morayma in Andalucía, where chef Esteban García Mingorance prepared this hearty, flavorful dish for his visitors. Fideos, Batali writes, are short pieces of thin pasta that are “traditionally cooked like a rice pilaf—browned in oil,” then cooked in just enough liquid to make them tender. Almost any kind of seafood can be used, he adds—“whatever clams look best, whichever shrimp look freshest.”
Fideos With Seafood
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb fideos (or substitute angel hair pasta broken into 1-inch pieces)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp hot pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
One 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
6 cups fish or seafood stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
A large pinch of saffron threads
1 lb mussels, scrubbed
1 lb medium shrimp in the shell
1 lb clams, scrubbed
Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add fideos; cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until well browned. Using a skimmer, transfer fideos to bowl. Add onion, garlic, and pimentón to pot; cook until the onion is beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands, and their juice. Raise the heat to high; cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce has thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the stock, wine, bay leaf, and saffron in another large heavy pot, and bring to a boil. Add the seafood, cover, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until all the clams and mussels have opened and the shrimp are opaque. Transfer the seafood to a large bowl. Add the shellfish cooking liquid and fideos to the tomato sauce. Add the fideos and cook, stirring frequently, until the fideos have absorbed a lot of the liquid and are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the shellfish, simmer gently just to heat through, and serve. Serves 6 to 8.