This is an easy version of a classic dish from Spain called fideus, which requires toasting pasta in a pot on the stove, stirring constantly. This pasta simply gets baked in the oven until it's wonderfully crisp.
Plus: Pasta Recipes and TipsBaked Pasta Dishes
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
1 quart water
2 pounds cockles, scrubbed
8 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 pound angel hair pasta
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped mint
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the reserved shrimp shells and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until bright pink, about 3 minutes. Add the water, cover and simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the cockles, cover and cook until the cockle shells open, about 3 minutes; discard any cockles that do not open. Strain the shellfish broth through a colander set over a bowl. Remove the cockles from their shells and reserve them separately in a small bowl.
In a small skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook over low heat until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Scrape the chile-garlic oil into a small bowl.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta, stirring, until pliable, about 2 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle the pasta with olive oil and toss to coat. As the pasta cools, toss it frequently to loosen the strands.
In the pasta pot, combine the strained shellfish broth with the saffron and boil over high heat until reduced to 3 cups, about 6 minutes. Add the cream and boil for 1 minute. Add the pasta and stir well. Pour the pasta and the broth into a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. With 2 forks, toss the pasta with the reserved chile-garlic oil and cockles and season with salt and pepper. Spread the pasta in an even layer and drizzle with olive oil. Bake the pasta in the upper third of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top is crispy.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until just opaque throughout, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and toss well. Remove from the heat and stir in the mint.
With kitchen shears, cut the pasta into 4 squares. With a wide spatula, transfer the pasta to plates. Top with the chopped almonds and the shrimp and serve.
Floral, rich Pinot Blanc.
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