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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Spaghetti Tacos (Tacos de Fideos)

Spaghetti Tacos (Tacos de Fideos)
If you've got kids in the elementary to junior high range at home, you've probably heard of Spaghetti Tacos ala iCarly.  I'm sure I've seen that episode, at least in part, close to 50 times.  The kids, probably more.  When Nickelodeon gets on an iCarly kick, they run the episodes over and over for days and days.

There was a time when the kids used to ask me to make Spaghetti Tacos.  And I didn't have anything against them, I just never really got around to making them.  Which is kind of rude of me, seeing as how we've probably had both tacos and spaghetti in their "natural forms" numerous times (hundreds) since the first time they asked.
Spaghetti Tacos on iCarly
Fast forward a couple of years.  I find myself perusing a cookbook.  What do I see?  Angel hair tacos.  Or Tacos de Fideos.  And right then and there it hits me - DUH!  Sopa de Fideos seco is a spaghetti-like pasta that's probably been scooped into tortillas for ages.  That's my kind of Spaghetti Tacos.

So, I do what I always do when I see or hear of a Mexican (-esque) dish that I don't know much about.  I turn the hubster.  And I pepper him with questions.  When I ask the most basic thing "Did you eat Tacos de Fideos growing up?", I get a look.  An eyebrows raised, looking down the tip of his nose kind of look.  An are you kidding me look.  So I'm like " that a yes?"

And I never really got a straight answer.  Only, "if I would've told my friends I was having Tacos de Fideos, they would have laughed. Held their stomachs, laughed, and pointed."  Apparently that was a poor persons meal.  People who couldn't afford to put meat in their tacos at it.  Under the cover of closed doors and windows.
My how times have changed. It's crazy how pop-culture influences people. I wonder if it's different now...thirty-odd years since mi esposo was a niño growing up in Mexico. Maybe the craze has changed the minds of the kids there these days. (If you're reading this Leslie, let me know!)

Although, as my kids quickly pointed out - "Mom. Spencer uses long noodles." I know, I know. He uses crunchy taco shells, too. But this was going to be the version we started with. I figured recruiting the kids into the kitchen to help would make it all okay. After all, kids can't resist preening over (and eating) the food they make themselves.

So, with Lyrical Teen on sauteeing duty...Drama Queen on gathering and prepping duty...and Sweet Thang on blender duty...our Spaghetti Tacos turned out pretty irresistible. I was surprised. Everybody liked them. They were proclaimed "the best lunch ever" and "so good, I love spaghetti tacos!".

Even hubby at them. Though I'm still not sure he'd admit it if you asked him.

Tacos de Fideos (Spaghetti or Angel Hair Tacos)
Spaghetti Tacos (Tacos de Fideos)
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: simmer entree vegetarian pasta tomatoes American Mexican

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 2 medium-large ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 large shallow, rough chop
  • 1 fat clove garlic, peeled
  • 1-1½ c. water
  • olive oil
  • 7 oz. fideos
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • Mexican Crema (or sour cream thinned with a little heavy cream), as needed
  • Queso Fresco, storebought or homemade, as needed
Place tomatoes, shallot, and garlic in a blender. Puree until smooth. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and a few good grinds of pepper. Set aside.

Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat (should be enough to coat the bottom). Add the fideos and saute, stirring regularly, until the noodles turn different shades of golden. You really want to babysit the noodles so that they don't burn. This should take 5-8 minutes.
toasting fideos
Once the fideos are golden, carefully pour the mixture from the blender into the pan (stand back, as it may spit a little). Add 1 cup of the water to the blender jar and swish it around. Pour this into the pan, as well.
Once the mixture begins the bubble, turn the heat down to low, and simmer stirring everything around from time to time, until the pasta is just tender, ~5-7 minutes. If fideos seem to be getting too dry, add in some more of the remaining ½ cup of water. Mixture should be moist, but not soupy. Turn off heat. Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary.
filling for spaghetti tacos
Heat up your tortillas (I like to do it directly over the flame on a gas stove, but you could do it in the microwave, oven, or even over a grill). Scoop the fideos into the hot tortillas. Drizzle with crema and crumble some queso fresco over the top. Enjoy!

This is basically making Sopa de Fideos Seco. After cooking and adjust the seasoning, you could scoop this into a bowl and eat it if you don't want to make tacos out of it.

I used fideos in this recipe (the short, cut noodles). If you can't find any fideos, you could break up either nests or long strands of angel hair or vermicelli to the same result. You could also actually use spaghetti noodles or nests with the same results if you want a fatter noodle (resulting in "actual" spaghetti tacos), but you'll need to adjust the cooking time for the thicker noodles.

This dish was inspired by the Spaghetti Tacos on iCarly & by Mexican Made Easy
Spaghetti Tacos (Tacos de Fideos)
I promised the kids that next time I'd pick up some hard shells and make regular old spaghetti with meatballs to put inside for Spaghetti Tacos version numero dos.  I'll let you know how that goes...