From Puglia. This dish looks fairly impressive, but is in fact quite easy to do. Spaghetti or linguine is mixed with seafood, and baked in the oven. The pasta absorbs the flavours from the seafood and the sauce is concentrated wonderfully. I had this dish at a restaurant near here “Zia Teresa” in Torre a Mare a while back. They served it using foil packets, but some people use greaseproof paper. Make one large package, or as I prerfer, one package per person. The recipe is really just a guide. The seafood is different from chef to chef and from day to day, depending on what is available. Include some kind of mollusc, like mussels or clams, something from the squid family, like calamari or octopus and something from the prawn family like prawns, scampi and shrimps. Some people also include a little fish, about 200 g, such as red mullet, sea bream or bass. Serves 4.
350 g spaghetti
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
1 kg of fresh tomatoes
200 g unpeeled raw prawns/shrimps
350 g clams (vongole veraci)
500 g mussels
200 g baby octopus or baby squid
A large sprig of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 chillis (optional, use the chillis which you are used to. It is usually made quite mild here)
Dry white wine
Wash the mussels and clams under cold running water and pull the beards off. Put them into a large pan along with a clove of garlic, the parsley and half a glass of wine. Put on a high heat until all the shellfish are open. Remove most of them from the shells (you leave a few whole for garnish, if you like) and reserve the cooking liquid, strained if need be.
Blanch the tomatoes for a few seconds in boiling water, and then peel and deseed them. Roughly chop.
Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan with the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. When they have browned, remove them from the oil. Add the octopus or squid, and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the cooking liquid from the shell-fish and the chopped chillis (leave them whole if you want to remove them at the end of cooking) and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the unpeeled prawns and cook for a further 5 minutes. If you’d prefer to peel the prawns you can, but you’ll be losing quite a lot of flavour.
Cook the pasta about half the time recommended time on the packet. Drain and mix with the sauce.
Use a large square of kitchen foil, or 4 smaller ones for individual portions. Bring all 4 sides up and pinch together the corners, so you have a sort of foil “basket”. Fill each pouch with the pasta and fold over the top to close. Dont close them too tightly, leave some room. Bake in an oven preheated to 200°c for about 10 minutes.
Unwrap the package or packages at the table and have some finger bowls and napkins handy.
Pasta con fagioli e cozze. From Naples. This is a variation on the classic Neapolitan dish of pasta and beans. The pasta is cooked in the sauce which makes it very tasty. Serves 4.
700g mussels, cleaned
1 clove of garlic
50 ml white wine
450g cooked cannellini beans (You can use canned if you like)
200g chopped tomatoes
200g short pasta such as ditali, gnochetti sardi etc
100ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Red chilli to taste, fresh or dried
Pasta with beans and mussels ingredients
Soften the garlic in a little olive oil. Add the mussels and the wine, cover and cook over a high heat until the mussels have opened. About 5 minutes
Pasta with beans and mussels opening the mussels
Remove the mussels from their shells and strain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Pasta with beans and mussels cooking the pasta
Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the beans. Stir in the tomatoes, the reserved cooking liquid and the stock and bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until it is done (refer to the packet for cooking times).
Remove from the heat, stir in the mussels and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and chilli
Cozze ripiene gratinate. This is quite an unusual mussel recipe. Mussels baked on the half shell are a very common antipasto here, but this recipe treats them a bit like the French scallop dish coquilles saint-jacques. They are baked with white sauce, cheese and wine. Serves 4 as a main course, many more as part of an antipasto.
Clean the mussels well. Place them in a pan along with half the clove of garlic, a sprig of parsley and the wine. Open the mussels by placing the pan over a high heat. Drain the mussels and filter and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove them from their shells.
Baked mussels opened with cooking liquid
Mix the mussel meat with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a chopped sprig of parsley, the rest of the garlic, chopped and a tbsp of the cooking liquid. Season with pepper.
Baked mussels removed from their shells
Place each mussel on a half shell.
Baked mussels on the half shell
Mix together the white sauce, the egg yolk and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Top each shell with some of the mixture.
Baked mussels with white sauce
Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top and bake at 190°c for 15 minutes.
Spaghetti con le cozze. This is a recipe that I cook a lot, but have never got round to posting. I, like the Barese, love mussels. They are always cheap and are available all year. Here the size changes with the season, but you can make this dish with big or small mussels, it doesn’t matter. They say that the smaller ones have a better flavour. Some people open the mussels raw for this dish. To be honest the flavour is probably marginally better, but I am not very good at opening them so I never have time. If you are adept at opening mussels, feel free to remove the shells before adding them, but don’t forget to include any water that comes out. Some people also remove the shells after they have opened. Again, it depends on my mood, but I usually don’t.You can also use fresh or tinned tomatoes.
1kg Mussels weighed with the shells
1 clove of garlic
500g peeled tomatoes
A few sprigs of chopped parsley
Chilli (optional to taste, can be fresh or dried)
Sauté the garlic for a few minutes so that it softens, but doesn’t brown.
Add the chilli (if fresh, if you are using dry, add it after the tomatoes)
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
Add the mussels and cook uncovered over a medium heat until they are all open
Cozze gratinate. From Puglia. I wanted to try this recipe to see if it makes a difference cooking the mussels from raw, rather than opening them in a hot pan first. I have to say it does! They were much nicer. Use a short knife to open the mussels over a bowl to catch the liquid. I still need a bit of pratice, but I was getting it towards the end. Serves 4 as a main course, more as an antipasto.
Gratinated mussels ingredients
1 kg mussels – well cleaned and opened on the half shell (reserve the liquid)
Bucatini e cozze all’amatriciana. This is a new twist on the classic amatriciana. The addition of mussels works surprisingly well. It is adapted from “Sale e Pepe” which is something like the Italian equivalent of “Good Food Magazine”. The original recipe calls for guanciale, but as this is hard to find, even in Italy, this is my version using pancetta. Serves 4
Cozze alla marinara. All dishes called alla marinara were originally prepared by fishermen from the ingredients readily available to them on board. This dish is very simple, but delicious all the same.
2 kilograms Mussels, cleaned
Plenty of pepper
Heat a dry pan to a high heat.
Add the mussels and plenty of black pepper.
As soon as all the mussels have opened, remove from the heat and sprinkle on the parsley.
Serve in bowls along with the liquid they released during cooking. Mop up the juice with some crusty bread.
Cozze ripiene. From Bari. This recipe was given to me by Marilisa – thanks a lot for taking the trouble. They were delicious 🙂 It’s actually her granny’s recipe and Marilisa’s favourite. The recipe seems a bit daunting as you have to open the raw mussels, but it’s really not that difficult. Follow the link below if you want to know how. Serves 4-5
Tiella di patate, riso e cozze. Tiella alla Barese. Riso patate cozze. Finally the definitive recipe! This recipe was given to me by Tiziana who is one of the best cooks in Bari (or so her friend Rosa tells me 😉 ) Many thanks Tiziana. It uses mussels which have been opened when they are still raw. My fish monger did this for me, but in the UK you’ll probably have to do this yourself. Here’s a link to show you how. Good luck 🙂
1.5kg potatoes, sliced
300g risotto rice, soaked in cold water
1kg mussels, opened on the half shell – reserve the liquid
This is another tiella recipe from Bari. It’s not completely traditional as the mussels are not raw when added to the tiella, but if you don’t fancy opening all those mussels it’s a fair approximation. I’ll post the ‘authentic’ recipe later.
Boil the rice until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking liquid.
Heat the mussels in a pan with a little oil and the chopped garlic. When they have opened, remove from the pan. Strain and reserve the liquid. Remove the top shell from each mussel.
Assemble the tiella in a ovenproof dish. Make layers of the ingredients in the following order – potatoes, rice, onions, tomatoes, a little cheese, parsley. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used up, finishing with a layer of potatoes.
Pour the liquid from the mussels over the tiella. Add some of the cooking liquid from the rice so that the level of liquid comes about two thirds of the way up the dish. Season well with pepper (not salt as the mussel liquid will be quite salty). Drizzle olive oil on top.
Bake uncovered for around 35 minutes at 180C. Add a layer of mussels in the half shells, drizzle on a little more oil and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
Zuppa di pesce alla Brindisina. A couple of weeks ago I got together with a couple of friends in order to cook a fish ‘soup’ . Soup is a bit of a misnomer, as there isn’t really that much liquid involved. It was an all day project involving a trip to the fish market in the morning, lots of preparation in the afternoon (why are mussels so time consuming to clean? I’d happily eat them every day if I didn’t have to spend an age scraping and pulling off various unsavoury parts 🙂 ) and cooking and eating in the evening. I glad to say it was worth the effort. Serves 4
Fish soup ingredients
600g scorpion fish (or any other firm white fish – we used hake), cleaned and definned.
350g squid, cleaned and cut into pieces.
150g cuttlefish, cleaned and cut into pieces.
300g mussels, cleaned and debearded.
200g clams, scrubbed
300g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped.
1 stick celery, finely chopped.
1 onion, finely chopped.
1 sprig parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped.
1/2 glass olive oil
4 slices stale bread
Soften the onion and celery in a large pan. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the start to break down and form a sauce.
Add the squid and cuttlefish and cook until they start to become tender – 10-20 minutes.
Add the mussels, clams and chilli, stir and then lay the fish on top. Cover and cook over a low heat until the fish sarts to flake (check from time to time with a fork).
To serve, place a slice of bread in the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle on a little garlic and parsley and spoon the soup on top.
This is another classic dish from Bari. A tiella is a terracotto cooking dish thought to have been introduced by the Spanish. The ingredients are built up layer by layer in the dish and then baked in the oven. Tiellas were at one time the evening meal of the farm workers when they came in from the fields. They were made from whatever was abundant and cheap at the time. This version uses mussels, a staple of Pulgia. Serves 4
1kg mussels, thoroughly cleaned
500g tomatoes, sliced
300g potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Heat the mussels in a pan with a little olive oil until they open. About 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid
Remove the top shell from each mussel
In an oven proof dish, preferably terracotta, put a layer of half the tomatoes, then all the onions, half the parsley and half the garlic.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil.
Then make a layer of the sliced potatoes.
Make a layer of mussels in their half shell and top with the rest of the parsley and garlic
Sprinkle plenty of pecorino on top and drizzle with some more olive oil.