Prep Time:15 min
Cook time: 35
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
2.2 lbs mussels
130 grams (2/3 cup) fregola
flat leaf parsley (stems and leaves)
1 clove garlic
peperoncino flakes, to taste
250 ml (1 cup) pureed peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
120 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
Rinse the mussels and scrub them if needed. Check if they are closed (discard if not) and put them in a frying pan. Add 120 ml of dry white wine and chopped parsley stems. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until all the mussels have opened. Do not cook longer than necessary (sometimes a few mussels won’t open; discard those). Strain the mussel liquid first through a colander, and then through kitchen paper (an old coffee filter is handy for this). Take most of the mussels out of their shells, but keep 12 or so nice looking mussels in their shells for garnish.
Dry the frying pan with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it. Peel a clove of garlic and cut it into 2 pieces. Tilt the pan off the heat and ‘deep fry’ the garlic in the oil to flavor to oil. Discard the garlic as soon as it turns golden. Add 250 ml of pureed tomatoes. Season to taste with peperoncino (chilli) flakes. Do not season with salt, as the mussel liquid is very salty by itself. Bring the tomatoes to a boil and add the fregola. Stir and add about half of the filtered mussel liquid. Cook over medium heat for about 13 minutes, stirring now and then. Add a bit more of the mussel liquid if it becomes too dry. But be careful with the saltiness; it may be wise to taste a little first and add water instead if it is already salty enough.
When the fregola is almost tender but still firm to the bite, add the mussels. Taste and add some more mussel water (or a bit of salt) if it is not salty enough, but that is not very likely. Add a tablespoon of minced parsley leaves and stir. Turn off the heat. Place the mussels in their shells on top of the fregola and cover. Allow to rest for a couple of minutes while the mussels are reheated. Serve on preheated plates, garnished with the mussels in their shells.
A Vermentino from Sardinia would be a great choice, but many other dry unoaked white wines from a warmer climate will work as well. The dish packs quite a bit of flavor, so the wine should have enough body.
Chef tips: Fregola is one of the typical pasta shapes from Sardinia. It is like a bit like large couscous and can be cooked like risotto. The most common dishes are with clams or with mussels, and they can be in bianco (“white”) or with tomatoes.
Check more recipes from: Chef Gianluca Deiana Abis