Don’t judge a mussel by its shell – Spaghetti alle cozze

Hello, my dear Raffies!

Welcome back!

The glorious weather has left us, I hope only momentarily, and we are back in rain, clouds and cold. On Saturday we went shopping for groceries, like every week, and it was with much delight that I discovered mussels on sale!

I ignored my husband’s mumbling and complaining and brought a nice pack of 2 kg home with me. Now I was left with two options, either eat them like that without bothering to make something fancy or cook them with pasta. I opted for the latter, although I really enjoy fresh mussels just boilt with maybe some freshly ground pepper.

Well, for those who have not grown up cleaning mussels as a kid, the whole process might appear complex. I still remember when we had mussels of any kind and I had the big responsibility of an eight-year-old of cleaning them.

It is actually very simple:

  1. First things first, pour some cold water in your sink and put the mussels into the water. This will make them close shut, so that it is easier for you to see which ones are already dead and which are still edible.
  2. Now remove the excess seaweed with a small knife and check that there are no cracks or holes in any mussel. Discard all cracked, broken or open ones.
  3. If you have clams, you’ll need to add an additional step, since they often contain quite a bit of sand. Hit every single clam on the counter with the opening facing downward to make them lose some of the sand and to see which ones are entirely filled with sand.
  4. Now place all your mussels in a big pot. You do not have to add any water, because they will lose enough water on their own. You can add a clove of garlic and a shot of white wine to the pot, if you like. Cover the pot with a lid and boil them for a few minutes. Don’t forget to shake the pot every now and then. Once all mussels have opened, they are done. Be careful not to boil them for too long, otherwise they can get chewy. You can now enjoy them like that or read further:

For the spaghetti alle cozze
(4 servings, even though we eat this amount in only 2):

2 kg mussels (cozze in Italian)
500 g spaghetti
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 fresh chili
a few cherry tomatoes, diced
olive oil
fresh parsley, finely chopped

  1. Prepare your mussels like mentioned above.
  2. In the meantime, you can boil your pasta in hot salt water until al dente.
  3. Remove the mussels from their shells. Keep a few with the shell for decoration. Also keep 2 scoops of the water you gathered from cooking the mussels.
  4. In a frying pan, heat up some olive oil. Add the garlic and the chili and briefly fry. Add the tomatoes and the mussels. Mix well, then add the cooking water from the mussels. Fry for a couple of minutes on medium heat. You can simmer with half a cup of white wine, if you would like to.
  5. Once your spaghetti are done, drain them and add them to the mussels. Stir fry for 1 or 2 minutes. In Italy we do this to mix the ingredients well and to enhance the flavour. You have to be careful not to overcook the pasta, otherwise they will get soggy. Drizzle with some fresh ground pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.
Spaghetti-alle-cozze - done
Spaghetti alle cozze – done

Just remember not to add any cheese. We do not add cheese to pasta with fish – even though I personally love to put my Grana Padano on every pasta dish.

I hope you’ll enjoy!
See you next time and have a great weekend!


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