Cooking exercise: Apulian Tubetti


The Italian Cusine is extraordinaire. Based on local products, each region and even each city or village has its own traditional recipe thus making the so-called “Mediterranean diet” listed among the UNESCO intangible world Heritage.

Today’s recipe is from southern Italy, from the Apulia Region and is recommended by my very good friend Ameriga Vozza, tour consultant and owner of a local incoming tour operator named Idea Tours.

TUBETTI PASTA WITH MUSSELS (tubetti con le cozze)

Serves 4 people

  • 320 gr. tubetti pasta
  • 1 kg. Mussels
  • 400 gr. peeled tomatoes (pomodori pelati)
  • 4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

This is a recipe from Taranto, which is famous for the mussels that are farmed in a closed portion of sea rich in springs of freshwater called citri.

Needless to say, you should be able to shell mussels to prepare this pasta, but if you’re not, you can simply wash the mussels thoroughly and open them in a pan over a high heat, taking them out of the pan as soon as they open, otherwise they will be overcooked! (In Apulia it is very common to find shelled mussels in fish shops). Remove the mussels from their shells leaving some of them intact for decoration. Discard any unopened shells and accurately filter the mussels’ water left in the pan.

Tubetti Pasta with Mussels

Pour some extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan with the peeled and halved garlic clove over a mild heat. When the garlic turns gold, add the tomatoes processed into a sauce with a food mill (or finely minced with a fork). Add the filtered mussels’ water and some chopped parsley and let it simmer about 15-20 minutes: the sauce must be soup-like, not thick.

Add the mussels and cook for a few minutes (the mussels must not be overcooked). At this point you can taste the sauce to understand if you need to add some salt (usually not).

Bring a pot of slightly salted water to the boil and cook the tubetti pasta. When the pasta is ready, drain it and mix it with the sauce in a large earthenware serving bowl, decorate with the intact mussels, sprinkle with more chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper, and serve. As the sauce must be soup-like, this pasta must be eaten with a spoon.

Enjoy it with a glass of Verdeca (white) or young Negramaro (red) wine.

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