One of my many food loves is Spanish cuisine. It might have something to do with spending a lot of time in Spain, as I have family there, but I think the real reason that I love it so much is because of the colours and how the food tastes. A Mediterranean staple is garlic and I love it. I have no idea how people can say that they hate the taste of it. It’s so sweet when it’s cooked and has an incredible bite that I love when it’s raw in alioli. I love the colour and taste of paprika, a spice used a lot in Spanish cooking. The smokey flavour it can bring to any dish, especially if you use the smoked one.
My all time favourite Spanish dishes is fideua. It’s cooked in the same way as a paella, but includes sun ripened sweet tomatoes and pasta.
I jumped for joy while I was in a supermarket in Spain as my eyes became fixed on a small bag of pasta. This is not the first time in recent months that I have got excited about pasta… this is going somewhere I promise. On closer inspection it was fideua, fine pieces of small pasta, and what was even better it was gluten free. Like many people who have been diagnosed later on in their life with a wheat allergy or coeliac disease you miss certain things. Fideua was one of the many dishes that I missed. I had contemplated not long ago snapping gluten free spaghetti up so that I could make one, but I had not quite got round to doing it. The bag of gluten free fideua now meant I had no excuses.
This Spanish dish is traditionally made with fish, but I wanted to revive the version that I did for my GCSE food technology project and make it with chicken. The one thing that I was cautious of is that gluten free pasta tends to absorb liquid much quicker than normal pasta and I was not too sure how this would turn out. I had images of a gluey, inedible mess. I was very wrong and this turned out to be a just as good as the original one I made 12 years or so ago. The eye catching yellow and the smell of the paprika filled the air as I was cooking it, and the tomatoes and garlic were not too far behind.
It was devoured by my Grandmother and my best friend, who could not tell the difference between the gluten free version and the original, who thought that it was tasty and that the chicken was tender.
I think the secret was reducing the amount of liquid that should go into the dish and by doing that I have managed to re-create my A grade final GCSE project.
3 chicken breasts cut up into large pieces or a mixture of chicken thighs and drum sticks – perhaps one of each person
250g fideua or 250g gluten free spaghettie snapped into small pieces
120ml olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
3 galric cloves, crushed or minced
1 tblsp fresh parsely, chopped or dried if you do not have fresh
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 pint of gluten free chicken stock
6-8 strands of saffron or 1 sachet paellero
1. Using a large frying pan that is about 2 inch deep or a wok or a 4 person paella pan, heat half of the oil. Cook the chicken (breasts or thighs and drumsticks) until sealed and slightly coloured. Once they have reached this stage, remove from pan and set aside.
2. In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the garlic and tinned tomatoes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and paprika and stir in. Now add the the stock and bring to a boil.
3. Once the liquid is boiling add the chicken, salt and saffron and bring back up to the boil. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Now scatter the fideua or the gluten free spaghetti evenly around the pan and cover. Let the dish simmer until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave to stand covered for 5 minutes.
5. Serve either on it’s own or with some warm gluten free crusty bread and aliol or a simple side salad.
Happy gluten free cooking 🙂