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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44 comments on spaghetti with chorizo and almonds

  1. Y’know, for some reason, I just don’t like almonds. I don’t know why! Everybody else seems to love them

    Almonds aside, I like the sound of this dish, especially since it appears to be mostly a one-pot-meal affair. I wonder if it’d be good to up the broth portion, toss in some more chopped spinach, a little less fideo, and eat it as a hearty soup? Good for the soon-to-be-cold east coast nights!

  2. Wow! That looks so simple, yet so utterly extravagant. I had no idea what fideos even were, though maybe you’d lost your mind, but now I know better. Thanks for the education, I look forward to threatening my husband with it soon. Love you, Ms Smitten Kitchen!

  3. Susan

    I made this recipe in July and it was delicious! I used Trader Joe’s spicy chicken chorizo, which is uncured, and I found it added just the right amount of spice. I took it out of the casings, browned it as directed and then added it back in with the broth. This way, the flavor of the chorizo was absorbed by the fideos as they were cooking. I, too, looked forward to the leftovers the next day!

  4. LyB

    That sounds like an incredible dish. I love that the pasta absorbs all the cooking broth, it must give the dish such great taste. I’ve never had fideos before but I will definitely be looking for them on my next trip to the grocery store. I just hope I’m luckier with the fideos than I was with the Israeli couscous as I haven’t been able to find it anywhere! :(
    Still, I haven’t stopped looking!

  5. I totally hear you, the other day, we had a bunch of food in the house which I could have turned into a proper meal with minimal effort, but I totally reached into the freezer and pulled out leftover soup I had frozen for exactly this purpose. As much as I love to cook, sometimes just making a salad can be overwhelming.
    I’m curious as to why this recipe is titled spaghetti, when really it’s fideos, or at least vermicelli/angel hair. Misleading, no?

  6. I’ve had the same recipe bookmarked for some time and read the same not-so-rave reviews of it. So I’ve got to say thanks for getting to it and offering up ideas and suggestions!

  7. You don’t have a dishwasher either? After a mad spree of cooking-for-posts this weekend, I had not just a sinkful, but an entire counter/table/and that little random mixer stand table/ful of dishes. It was downright depressing. I applaud you on finding the will to keep on cookin’. :) Now, I hate to be a pest, but can you tell me what brand or something telling that will help me find fideos here in Philly?? After your first post about them, I went a-huntin’ and had no luck. I’d rather not resort to breaking up uncooked spaghetti when these looks so much more fun.

  8. This looked so good that my wife and I decided to try it last night… It was wonderful! Our grocery store only carries Mexican-style chorizo, so we substituted Portuguese linguica. It worked well and added some of that spice you felt was missing. We also added the tomato like you suggested. It really helped add some extra flavor and color. All in all it was a fun, easy, and tasty meal! Thanks!

  9. This does look great. Chorizo is one of my favorites and combining it with chickpeas and saffron sounds like the best thing ever. I rarely eat pasta, but this looks so tempting I might give it a try. Thanks.

  10. This is my first time commenting here, although I have been happily lurking for months. I really enjoy your beautiful blog and have gotten many great ideas from you.

    I made your fideos recipe tonight and I wanted to tell you about it. I followed your recipe and made a few of the changes you suggested. I added more chorizo, tomato and spinach to the recipe. I also sprinkled in some smoked paprika. Then, during the last few minutes, I added about 2 dozen littleneck clams to the pot. I have seen recipes before in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine that mixed shellfish and pork. The clams steamed open and all of their wonderful juices permeated the dish. It was really delicious!

    Thank you for sharing this and your many other wonderful recipes. You have been an inspiration to me!

  11. Erica

    This was a tasty, unusual recipe. Mine came out darker and more mixed-looking than Deb’s lovely photo up there, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a poor college student and as such can’t afford saffron, but I didn’t miss it.

    Definitely, definitely double the chorizo and add red pepper flakes. I also threw in a couple little hot peppers. And spaghetti worked just fine!

    This recipe makes quite a huge amount, so prepare to take your leftovers to work and make everybody jealous at your exotic, restaurant-grade-but-homemade lunch.

    My boyfriend moaned about the almonds, but I thought they added a nice texture. Whatever floats your boat!

  12. Kathleen

    Just discovered your blog through a friend of a friend of a friend…and I think I’m in love. I clicked “surprise me” today, and this came up – which is awesome, because, without knowing it existed, I made something similar for dinner last night, and am now enjoying the leftovers. Yellow summer squash sauteed with crumbled chorizo, over linguine, and topped with crumbled feta. HEAVEN.

  13. I am real leary of any recipe for spaghetti because I get acid reflu really bad from the canned tomatoes. However – I was delighted to run across this recipe without any tomatoes. My wife and I just love this recipe. Thanks for giving me such a great gift!

  14. Kate

    I just made this Sunday night and am happily eating leftovers at my desk today. I, like a commenter above, also substituted linguica sausage, but made as written with the addition of red pepper flakes. It is amazing! Tastes way harder to make than it is!

  15. Wanted a quick spaghetti recipe and we had most of the ingredients, so we whipped this up tonight – we really enjoyed the flavors! We didn’t have any chickpeas, we added oven-roasted tomatoes, and we added some smoked paprika too. It was delicious! We’re looking forward to leftovers tomorrow too. I agree, I would have liked more chorizo, but since we only had 1 link left in the fridge we weren’t in a place to experiment with that tonight. Thanks for another great recipe!

  16. Wendy

    I have made this twice now, and my husband and I have really enjoyed it. I use all stock and wine (no water). I also (as suggested) use almost a pound of chorizo and love it even with all the chickpeas and marcona almonds. With the final addition of red peper flake and paprika, this is really delicious – and quick to make. I’m reheating my leftovers right now! Yum!

  17. Ms. Smitten Kitchen,

    Now this is more than good enough to make for a dinner date!

    I was wondering if I may use a different kind of chorizo. You see in the Philippines (where I’m from) there’s a wide selection of chorizos to choose from.

    Shed some light, please?
    Thank you.

  18. xGvJx

    Thank you for all your spaghetti recipes – I’m used to just boiling spaghetti and putting it on the table next to a pot of tomato sauce, and mixing it in the pot with different ingredients is completely new to me. I’ve fallen in love with this way of doing it now.

  19. Katie

    Well, I made it and it was delish! We used Mexican style chorizo which added a nice smokey flavor, and added all the additions you mentioned (which were spot on, btw). I think the only thing I would change is the amount of pasta. I ended up adding another cup of stock/wine before the pasta was cooked, but other than that it’s officially one of my new favorites!

  20. Jenna

    I just made this for dinner and it was the best dinner I’ve had in weeks! I roasted some grape tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper and added them in at the end. I will definitely be making this again!!

  21. Alena

    I’ve made this a few times now and I have noticed that there are a couple changes to this recipe that really make it sing (for me, at least):

    The amount of pasta. Reducing the amount called for by 2 oz intensified the flavor and yielded enough for 3-4 main dish servings w/ a salad.

    No chickpeas or fry the chickpeas before adding them. The uncooked chickpeas were bland in this dish and detracted from the overall quality. Sauteing them in the pan along with the onions deepened their flavor and added another layer of flavor. Omitting them yielded a simpler dish that I still preferred over the uncooked chickpeas.

    In summer fresh sweet peas are fabulous in this dish, especially if you let it come to room temperature before serving!

    Make sure you get a nice golden brown on your pasta before adding the broth. It really makes all the difference, both textural and in flavor.

    Just my two cents! :) We love this recipe in my house!

  22. Killian

    Made this tonight and my family’s unanimous opinion was, “Weird. But delicious!” =)

    They’re all sausage hounds, so I will definitely add more next time. I couldn’t get chorizo in my store and ran out of time to go to the other store, so I used Andouille instead. It worked beautifully, but I’d love to try the original.

    I have to agree with adding the chickpeas much earlier. Everyone liked them in the dish but wanted them softer and with a bit more flavor. I’ll just add them in with the sausage.

    Cheers, and thank you!

  23. Kristine

    I made this tonight and it was definitely different in our house because even though I’m Italian and cook a ton of all forms of pasta constantly, this was with Spanish flavors for a much appreciated twist! Your palette must be the exact same as ours because we added all your suggestions and loved it. We used a whole pound of pasta, a whole bag of spinach and a whole pound of chorizo so could have used just a touch more broth mixture but al dente is fine with us too! Keep the recipes coming! We don’t do many desserts because too much sugar can be bad (for my 2 year old) for us but your savory recipes are on full rotation in my house.