Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pettole con Cozze e Fagioli

square pasta with mussels and beans

Michele spotted some unique pasta the other day at the Italian grocery store - Pettole Abruzzesi - 2-inch little squared pastas. When Michele's parents were visiting, Michele's dad Gennaro wanted to make Pettole con patate, because Pettole goes great with potatoes. This type of pasta is meant to be cooked with a hearty sauce, a pasta sauce that is thick and cooked for many hours.

However, after searching for several recipes for this type of pasta, Michele landed with one of his favorite celebrity chef's recipe - Mario Batali's pasta with mussels and beans We slightly changed things up a bit, using canned beans and fresh cherry tomatoes, lots of wine, and of course, using pettole instead of penne. This dish is meant to be very hearty, garlicky and peppery, so add lots of pepper when making the beans sauce.

The apartment was filled with amazing aromas in the evening while this was being cooked. The beans were simmering away in white wine, releasing such a sweet fragrance that felt earthy, light and inviting. The mussels when being shucked after it was cooked in wine and garlic was oozing with aroma in the kitchen, with smells of fresh and juciness like it was straight from a Belgium bistro...

I also started to use fresh herbs from our balcony, and it just took homemade cooking to a new level!


1 can of cannellini beans
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed
1/4 cup dry white wine
chopped garlic, 3 cloves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
fresh cherry tomatoes chopped
1/2 pound Pettole abruzzesi pasta
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
2 sprigs basil
Salt and pepper


In a saucepan, use medium heat and cook the beans with the chopped carrot and celery. Add 2 cups of wine and bring to a boil, then redue to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check water level from time to time and add wine or boiling water as it cooks down so that beans are always covered. Again, this dish is meant to be very peppery, so Michele added lots of pepper every 10 minutes, when checking the sauce.

Place mussels in a large pan with the wine and chopped garlic, and set over high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until all mussels have opened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Strain cooking liquid through several layers of cheesecloth and set aside.
When mussels are cool enough to handle, remove flesh and discard shells.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add garlic. When garlic is soft but not brown, add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and disintegrating. Stir in cooked beans and simmer gently while pasta cooks.
Cook pasta in boiling water until it is almost cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the bean mixture. Add the mussels and strained mussel liquid. Stir over low heat 5 minutes, then add parsley, basil, and salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately!

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