Eating in Mexican restaurants, one comes to the conclusion that all Mexican food involves rice and tortillas. When my mother-in-law introduced me to a Mexican pasta, called fideo, I was surprised. “I’ve never seen that in a restaurant!”

This is so cheap and easy, you could get hooked on it, especially if you have kids. There’s also a version used to make soup — see Sopa de Fideo.

1 pound ground beef or diced chicken or pork
5 oz dry fideo or vermicelli
1 T oil or shortening
1 medium chopped onion
1 15-oz can chicken broth
1/2 C water
2-3 T chili powder
Salt or garlic salt and pepper, to taste

Saute meat until done, set aside. In the same pan, heat oil or shortening and brown the fideo (use 1-1/4 inch long pieces), stirring constantly. Add chopped onion halfway through browning. Add chicken broth and water, return meat to pan, add seasonings. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

For extra zip, add sliced jalapenos or ground cayenne. Serves 4 to 6.