Pasta and mussels have a long tradition among the coastal areas of the Mediterranean sea. The version from the gulp city of Taranto in Puglia appeals to me the most.

{Image Attribution via Raffaele D’Angelo}




Buongiorno amici:

Spaghetti with mussels in the style of Taranto is a delicious first course that few can resist, especially during the summer season. It is a typical recipe from Mediterranean cuisine, relatively simple and quick to prepare. You can opt to offer it for a light dinner, a lunch accompanied by fresh greens and vegetables, or stand-alone. The type of pasta to use is entirely personal. I select long bucatini or spaghetti, but I have seen friends use short pasta and eat it with a spoon. It is all about preference.

Use the freshest shellfish, keep it in the refrigerator until use, and refrain from frozen seafood, often chewy and rubbery with an unpleasant aftertaste.

Note: Handling shellfish

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Ingredients for 4

One pound of good quality brand spaghetti

Two pounds of fresh Mussels

Two cups of San Marzano tomato puree or Stanislaus Brand California

One large clove of garlic

One fresh chili

Fresh parsley, about two tablespoons minced

Fresh basil to taste

Four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste


Wash the mussels eliminating the broken or partially open ones. Then clean them by tearing off the filament (byssus) that comes out and scrape the shells with a brush; put them in a bowl with cold water, then rinse them under running water.

Transfer the mussels to a large saucepan with a wide bottom and cover. Put them on medium heat, shaking the saucepan from time to time, and remove them as they open. Filter the water produced and store it in a large pan. Shell almost all the mussels and leave some with half-shells.

Finely chop the garlic and fry it with a base of oil in a large pan with high sides for about 1 minute over low heat. Add the tomato puree and cook for about 15-20 minutes over meager heat, adding a little water from the mussels when necessary. Towards the end of cooking, add the chopped chili pepper and a few basil leaves, then add the mussels but not salted; turn off after a few moments and keep warm.

Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti in lightly salted boiling water until half cooked; drain and pour them into the pan with the water from the mussels, which you will have put back on the heat, and finish cooking them. Immediately transfer the spaghetti al dente to the mussel sauce, flavor them with freshly ground pepper and send them over a high flame for a few seconds. Serve hot after having garnished them with chopped parsley.


Note: How to clean mussels

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