Classic Mexican Pasta Seca
- 2 tablespoons of neutral tasting oil, like canola
- 3 chile ancho (dried) soaked in water
- 3 chile guajillo (dried) soaked in water
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup of chopped onion
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 lb package of thin pasta noodles like cappellini or angel hair, or fideo if you happen to find them
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups of water
- Soak both types of chiles in warm water until pliable (you can soak them in the same bowl). When done, remove the stems and seeds.
- Blend the onion, the garlic, salt, tomato puree and the chiles until well combined.
- Add oil to a skillet and brown the pasta until golden, from four to six minutes.
- Stir in the mixture of aromatics, tomato puree and chiles. Add two and a half cups of water and reserve the rest in case you feel the pasta is to dry.
- Lower the heat and cover for eight to ten minutes until fragrant and tender. Stir from time to time so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Pasta seca is a very popular dish in central Mexico—but please don’t let the name mislead you, dried pasta here stands for no sauce, not uncooked. It is a comforting and amazingly delicious dish made with fideos, a very thin pasta that comes either short or long. The fideos (normally the long version) are first toasted until golden brown and then cooked with a tomato and chile ancho and guajillo sauce. This different pasta cooking method makes the final dish so different from traditional pasta. All the flavor from the sauce is absorbed by the noodles or concentrates around them. This dish is so light and full of flavor that it carries you back home—a true comfort food.
A traditional Mexican place to get together with friends when you are thirsty for a drink and a good laugh are called Cantinas. Cantinas originally were only for men, a place for them to drink beer and tequila and eat great local food. Thank God, through time, now they are open to everybody, so women can also enjoy great times with friends, drinks, and good eats.
This pasta seca is an example of the kind of food you will get in a Cantina. If you can’t find fideo pasta, use vermicelli or even cappellini. Just loosely wrap the pasta in a dish cloth and break the noodles in half.