Spaghetti al cartoccio (in a package)

puglia crestFrom 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
  • Olive oil
  • 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 with beans and mussels

Pasta with beans and mussels finished dish

Pasta with beans and mussels finished dish

Napoli crestPasta 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

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

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

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

Baked mussels

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.

Baked mussels finished dish

Baked mussels finished dish

Baked mussels ingredients

Baked mussels ingredients

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

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

Baked mussels removed from their shells

Place each mussel on a half shell.

Baked mussels on the 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

Baked mussels with white sauce

Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top and bake at 190°c for 15 minutes.

Spaghetti with mussels

Spaghetti with mussels ingredients

Spaghetti with mussels ingredients

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.
Serves 4
  • 1kg Mussels weighed with the shells
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 500g peeled tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • A few sprigs of chopped parsley
  • Chilli (optional to taste, can be fresh or dried)
  • 320g Spaghetti
  1. Sauté the garlic for a few minutes so that it softens, but doesn’t brown.
  2. Add the chilli (if fresh, if you are using dry, add it after the tomatoes)
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Add the mussels and cook uncovered over a medium heat until they are all open
  5. Add the parsley and stir
  6. Mix with the cooked spaghetti and serve.
Spaghetti with mussels finished dish

Spaghetti with mussels finished dish

Gratinated mussels

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)
  • 100g dry breadcrumbs
  • 100g parmesan – grated
  • A few sprigs of parsley – finely chopped
  • A pinch of dried oregano
  • A clove of garlic – finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  1. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan, oregano, parsley and garlic.
  2. Arrange the mussels on a baking tray and top each one with a little of the mixture.
  3. Put a few drops of the mussel liquid on to of each one and drizzle with olive oli.
  4. An alternative method is to mix the mussel liquid in to the breadcrumb mix to form a dryish paste. Press a little of the paste into each mussel and drizzle with oil as before.
  5. Grill the mussels until they are golden brown and sizzling.

Gratinated mussels finished dish

Bucatini and Mussels all’Amatriciana

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

Bucatini amatriciana with mussels ingredients

  • 320g bucatini or spaghetti
  • 1 kg mussels
  • 400g passata
  • A clove of garlic
  • 50g pancetta – cubed
  • 1/2 a glass of dry white wine
  • Pecorino romano cheese – grated
  • Chilli powder to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Fry the pancetta in a little oil along with the whole garlic clove.
  2. When the garlic has browned, remove and discard.
  3. Add the chilli and fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the passata and cook over a low heat for about 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile put the mussels in a pan along with the wine and cook over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Drain and reserve the liquid.
  6. Shell the mussels, reserving a few for decoration.
  7. Pour the mussel liquid into a large pan and add water to make it up to about 3 litres. Bring to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.
  8. Shorlty before the pasta is ready, add the mussels to the tomato sauce and allow to heat through for a minute or so.
  9. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with tomato sauce.
  10. Mix well and serve with the pecorino on the side.

Bucatini amatriciana with mussels finished dish

Mussels alla marinara

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
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Plenty of pepper
  1. Heat a dry pan to a high heat.
  2. Add the mussels and plenty of black pepper.
  3. As soon as all the mussels have opened, remove from the heat and sprinkle on the parsley.
  4. Serve in bowls along with the liquid they released during cooking. Mop up the juice with some crusty bread.

Stuffed mussels

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

Stuffed mussels ingredients

Stuffed mussels ingredients

  • 1 kilogram large mussels
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 bread roll — crust removed
  • parsley — finely chopped
  • 100 grams Pecorino Romano or Parmesan — grated
  • milk
  • olive oil
  • garlic to taste — finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • kitchen string
  • 2 bottles passata
    • Clean the mussels and open them keeping the shells attached
    • Soak the bread roll in a little milk and tear into small pieces.
    • Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix with the cheese, garlic, parsley and bread. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Add breadcrumbs little by little until you have a fairly dry stuffing mix.
    • Stuff the mussels with the mixture and tie them almost closed with kitchen string. Don’t tie them too tightly as the stuffing has to come into contact with the cooking sauce.
Stuffed mussels ready to cook

Stuffed mussels ready to cook

  • Heat some oil in a large pan and add some chopped garlic. When the garlic has coloured add the tomatoes. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the mussels and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  • Remove the mussels from the sauce and remove the string.
  • Serve the sauce with spaghetti or linguine as a first course.
  • The mussels can be served as the second course or as part of an antipasto (hot or cold)
Stuffed mussels finished dish

Stuffed mussels finished dish

Stuffed mussels with pasta finished dish

Stuffed mussels with pasta finished dish

Tiella of potatoes, rice and mussels – Authentic recipe

Bari crestTiella 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 🙂
Serves 6
Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 1.5kg potatoes, sliced
  • 300g risotto rice, soaked in cold water
  • 1kg mussels, opened on the half shell – reserve the liquid
  • onions, sliced
  • olive oil
  • garlic, chopped
  • parsley, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • pecorino Romano, grated
  • parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  1. Assemble the tiella as follows in an ovenproof dish, preferably terracotta
  2. A layer of onions drizzled with oil
  3. A layer of potatoes seasoned with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  4. A layer of mussels seasoned with garlic and parsley. Drizzle with oil
  5. Drain the rice and distribute it over the mussels. Season with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  6. A layer potatoes.
  7. Add the water reserved when you opened the mussels. Add water so that the final layer of potatoes is just covered
  8. Cover tightly (maybe with alumnium foil) and bake at 180°C for up to two hours. Test from time to time with a skewer.
  9. Uncover for the last 20 minutes of cooking to brown the top.
Tiella finished dish

Tiella finished dish

 

 

Carrot and mussel soup

trentino crestCrema di Carote e Cozze. This dish is from Trentino Alto Adige so it is heavily influenced by it’s northern neighbours. Don’t tell my Barese friends, but I found it rather good 🙂 Serves 4

 

carrot and mussel soup ingredients

carrot and mussel soup ingredients

  • 32 large mussels, cleaned
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 700g carrots
  • 70g butter
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • sugar
  • salt
  1. Dice half of the carrots. Fry in half the butter with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until caramelized. Put aside.
  2. Finely chop the rest of the carrots. Fry in the rest of the butter for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Add the stock, cover and cook until the carrots are soft. Liquidize.
  3. Put the mussels in a pan with the wine and garlic. Place over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Shell the mussels. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.
  4. Reheat the carrot purée. Add the mussels and their cooking liquid and the diced carrots. Served with the chopped parsley sprinkled over each portion.

carrot and mussel soup finished dish

 

Tiella alla Barese

Bari crest

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.

Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 400 g potatoes, peeeled and thinly sliced
  • 200 g risotto rice
  • 700 g mussels, cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • a handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 200 g tomatoes, peeled, deseed and chopped
  • pecorino cheese, grated
  • pepper
  1. Boil the rice until al dente. Reserve some of the cooking liquid.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Easy tiella alla barese

Easy tiella alla barese

Brindisi fish soup

Brindisi crestZuppa 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

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
  1. 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.
  2. Add the squid and cuttlefish and cook until they start to become tender – 10-20 minutes.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
fish soup finished dish

fish soup finished dish

Tiella of mussels and potatoes

Bari crestThis 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

tiella of mussels and potatoes ingredients

  • 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
  • pecorino, grated
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

  1. Heat the mussels in a pan with a little olive oil until they open. About 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid
  2. Remove the top shell from each mussel
  3. 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.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil.
  5. Then make a layer of the sliced potatoes.
  6. Make a layer of mussels in their half shell and top with the rest of the parsley and garlic
  7. Sprinkle plenty of pecorino on top and drizzle with some more olive oil.
  8. Bake at 180 C for 35-40 minutes

tiella of mussels and potatoes finished dish 1

tiella of mussels and potatoes finished dish 2

Mussels ‘au gratin’

mussels au gratin ingredients

  • 1 kg mussels,thoroughly cleaned
  • 100g bread crumbs
  • 2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • zest of a lemon, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  1. Open the mussels by putting them in pan with a little olive oil and heating for around 5 minutes
  2. Remove the top shell from each mussel and arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Mix together the bread crumbs, parsley, chilli, garlic and lemon zest in a bowl.
  4. Add a little olive oil and mix again. Keep adding olive oil in the way until the mixture has a ‘crumble’ like consistency
  5. Top each half shell with a little of the mixture.mussels au gratin assembled
  6. Bake for around 15 minutes at 200 C

mussels au gratin finished dish

Mussels ‘au gratin’

mussels au gratin ingredients

  1      kilogram  mussels — thoroughly cleaned
  100 grams  bread crumbs
  2      sprigs  parsley — finely chopped
  1      chilli — finely chopped
  1      clove  garlic — finely chopped
          zest of a lemon — finely chopped
          olive oil

  • Open the mussels by putting them in pan with a little olive oil and heating for around 5 minutes
  • Remove the top shell from each mussel and arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray.
  • Mix together the bread crumbs, parsley, chilli, garlic and lemon zest in a bowl.
  • Add a little olive oil and mix again. Keep adding olive oil in the way until the mixture has a ‘crumble’ like consistency
  • Top each half shell with a little of the mixture.

mussels au gratin assembled

  • Bake for around 15 minutes at 200 C

mussels au gratin finished dish