Sunday, September 23, 2007

spaghetti with chorizo and almonds

spaghetti with chorizo and almonds

I cooked dinner Wednesday night for the first time in over a week. I blame the babka. Oh, and also the red velvet cake, and since we’re pointing fingers, that noodle kugel is looking a little guilty too, isn’t it? And three-hour tortillas? Busted as well.

Here’s the thing with taking on more ambitious cooking projects: when I’m done, even the though of a quick dinner of salad and couscous seems outrageous. I mean, we just worked our way through a pile of dishes that could rival that of the diner on the corner after the leather bars let out, and now you suggest I chop some green onions? Are you mad? Bring on the baigan bharta!

Eventually, however, I cave. I miss controlling what goes down our gullets. A recipe piques my interest, and in this case it was a chance to revisit fideos after my last fairly disappointing experience. This beauty from the July Gourmet didn’t include the original combination that wowed me at The Little Owl, but what is not to love about chorizo, almonds, chickpeas and saffron?


I also did something so completely unlike me: I created a recipe that I knew others hadn’t gone wild over. See here, you can read for yourself in the comments. But I loved these ingredients so much, I couldn’t ignore the craving and well, the reviewers were right, the recipe needs some tweaking.

But it was also delicious, buttery, winey and multi-textured and flavored. Not wanting to skitter myself out of the kitchen for another week by cooking (the horror!) more than one dish at a time, I added some baby spinach to create more of a one-pot-meal feel. Next time I’d add more, plus some chopped fresh tomato at the end. I also might double the chorizo, as its presence seemed mighty sparse in such a big dish. And I’d definitely kick up the spice, either adding a pinch of red pepper flakes or a minced hot pepper in with the onions, or a teaspoon of smoky hot paprika somewhere then or thereafter.

Yet I think we all know that there is only one true test of whether a dish was good enough to repeat, despite its flaws, and that is by its Leftovers Appeal. I woke up the next morning, grumbled that I was out of yogurt and then thought, “ooh, but I get to eat fideos for lunch!” And there you have it.


One year ago: Ina Garten’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake (Yee gads, that was a good one.)

Spaghetti with Chorizo and Almonds
Adapted from Gourmet, July 2007

As I mentioned above, my suggestions are to add more spice in the form of hot paprika, red pepper flakes or a minced hot pepper, double the chorizo, and to sauté in a few cups of baby spinach and one chopped tomato in the last two minutes. Of course, since I haven’t tested these things to my satisfaction, I’m giving you the original recipe below and my encouragement that you spread your wings and fly, fly, fly little bird. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

Serves 4

1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; not hot), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
12 ounces fideos (dried coiled vermicelli noodles) or angel-hair pasta or thin spaghetti, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 (14- to 19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup sliced almonds with skins, toasted

Bring broth, water, wine, saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan, then reduce heat and keep at a bare simmer.

Heat oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then saute garlic until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add chorizo and saute until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels with garlic. Add butter to pot and saute onion until golden, about 5 minutes, then add pasta and saute, breaking up fideos with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add broth mixture and cook, covered, until all liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, chorizo, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pasta sprinkled with almonds and drizzled with oil.


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