In many traditional Spanish dishes pasta, just like rice, is cooked directly in sauces or soups, not separately in water. The most commonly used by Spaniards is pasta called fido. It can be bought in a variety of thicknesses marked with a number (fideo nº0, nº1, nº2, nº3, …) and sometimes it has a hole along its entire length. This pasta is commonly used to prepare the dish called fideuá – very similar to paella, but with pasta instead of rice. Another popular pasta dish are canelones – sheets of pasta similar to those used to prepare Italian lasagna, which are folded into a tube and stuffed with meat, spinach or other vegetables; then are topped with tomato and bechamel sauce and baked in the oven (you can also buy the ready to fill canelones tubes). In Catalonia there is also pasta called galets that appears here especially during Christmas in traditional one-pot dish called Escudella i carn d’olla – a bit like cocido from Madrid. Normally this dish is eaten as two separate ones: first one is the broth served with galets stuffed with meat, and the second one contains all the ingredients, from which the broth was made: meat, sausage (botifarra), chickpeas, vegetables (cabbage, potatoes, carrots) and huge meatballs called pilotes.
Galet pasta is similar in shape to snail shells, but with an opening on both sides. I must admit that it’s a little complicated to fill it with the stuffing, so I recommend you use a large open shells instead of galets, if you want to prepare this cod and broccoli stuffed pasta.
Ingredients (serves 2):
200 g broccoli (or a bunch of spinach)
200 g desalted cod
about 20 cooked galets pasta or other shell-shape pasta
3 tablespoons pine nuts or almond flakes
1 garlic clove
10 g flour
1 tablespoon butter
200 ml milk
salt, pepper, nutmeg
Desalt the cod by soaking it in cold water (change the water at least 3 times) for at least one night (soaking time depends on the size of a piece of cod).
Cook the pasta al dente in salted water. Set aside.
Heat some water in a saucepan. When it starts to boil add desalted cod and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain and when the fish is cold remove the skin and bones and flake it apart with your fingers into small pieces. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a saucepan or a frying pan. Add finely chopped onion and fry until transparent. Add the flour and mix well. Then pour in the milk and cook stirring constantly until the sauce is creamy. Season with salt, pepper and ground nutmeg.
Cut the broccoli florets very finely or shred them in a food processor or blender.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a separate pan. Add finely chopped garlic and pine nuts or almond flakes. When they are golden brown, add flaked cod and mix well. Then add the broccoli and mix well. At the end, add the bechamel sauce, prepared in advance. Stir and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stuff the pasta shells with prepared filling. Serve with tomato soup or tomato sauce.