Recipe by Gastronomia Mediterranea
Mafalda Garofalo and beans with mussels
Pasta and beans with mussels is essentially a Southern Italy variation on traditional legume recipes. In the Neapolitan tradition, pasta and beans is a soup in which the pasta is cooked directly in the sauce, using a technique similar to that for risotto, adding water or broth when needed, until the pasta is completely cooked- The starch released, along with the blending of the ingredients and the seasoning, contributes towards achieving a creamy consistency. In this version, the liquid that is added during cooking is the water from the mussels, which gives the dish a typical savory note. Although in Naples normally mixed pasta is used to prepare pasta and beans, which is a mixture of the remnants from various types of pasta from when they used to be sold loose, a very valid alternative is the short Mafalda pasta, which, with its wavy edges, "embraces" the mussel. Actually, short mafalda is just one of the many shapes that are present in the mixed pasta variety.
- 40 minutes
Ingredients for four people
700 g of cooked Cannellini beans
1 clove of garlic
Clean the mussels, place in a large pan with a lid, and cook on high heat until the shells open. The mussels should just open without cooking any further, since they undergo a second phase of cooking later. Allow them to cool, shell them, and after careful filtering, put the cooking liquid to the side.
To prepare the beans, brown a clove of garlic in the oil, then add a peeled tomato cut into slices with a spoonful of its own juice, and cook over a medium heat. After five minutes, add the box of beans with its sauce and leave it on a medium heat for about ten minutes.
For those who prefer a dish that's creamier, at this stage you can blend in half of the beans, otherwise you can skip this step, in favor of a more rustic dish.
Add the pasta to the beans and cook while adding, alternately, a tablespoon of water from the mussels and a spoonful of warm water, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has reached the right level of creaminess. Add the shelled mussels - remembering to keep some for a garnish - and cook for another minute.
Serve hot, add three or four mussels per plate, and garnish with chopped parsley and a generous amount of ground pepper.