Pasta, fagioli e cozze (Pasta, beans and mussels)

A recipe by Laura Zavan, taken from her latest book: “Gourmet walk in Italy: Laura’s favorite recipes”

Pasta, beans and mussels © Valérie Lhomme

For 4 people

Preparation: 40 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour

  • 800 g fresh shelled beans such as borlotti or cannellini) or 350 g dried beans (soak for at least 12 hours)
  • 1 kg of mussels
  • 200 g of pasta of your choice
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pinches baking soda (for the dried beans) 1/2 bunch parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, ground pepper

A very tasty recipe for “cucina povera” (“poor cuisine”) with several variations. We use borlotti or cannellini beans (fresh or dried), some add tomatoes, and for the pasta… we put leftovers from the cupboard! I’ve used fusilli, maccheroni, durum tagliatelle, but you can use what you have – best to choose pasta that has the same cooking times, otherwise cook it at 1 or 2 minute intervals depending on their thickness.

Pour the beans into a saucepan with 2 cloves of garlic cut in half and degermed, the bay leaf and the baking soda, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook them until they are tender: count approximately 30 minutes for fresh beans and 1 hour for dried beans. Salt at the end of cooking. Reserve 200 g cooked beans for the presentation of the dish and keep the cooking water.

Remove the garlic and the bay leaf and grind (or blend) the remaining beans, gradually adding the cooking water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, until you get a cream . Check the seasoning.

Take the parsley leaves, chop them and reserve the stems.

In a sauté pan, heat 1 drizzle of oil, 1 clove of garlic and the parsley stalks and pour in the mussels then cover. Cook over high heat for a few minutes until they open. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and shell them – except for a dozen that you will keep for decoration. Strain the juice from the mussels and set aside.

Cook the pasta al dente in a pan of boiling salted water and finish cooking in the juice of the mussels, so that they absorb the taste. Drain them, then add the shelled mussels and chopped parsley to the pasta.

Distribute on each plate first the cream of beans, then the reserved beans, the pasta with the mussels and 2 to 3 mussels with their shells. Drizzle with 1 drizzle of olive oil and pepper. Serve immediately.

Laura’s tip: You can serve the bean cream hot or lukewarm in summer…

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