Calamarata cozze e ceci / pasta with mussels and chick peas

calamarataIt doesn’t look at you and it doesn’t have a twitchy tail, so get over it! This is Fidget’s big stumbling block – Salmon’s, too, for that matter: even the slightest seafood connection is viewed with deep suspicion.

Calamarata cozze e ceci / pasta with mussels and chick peas


This dish – pasta served over a cream of chick peas (vellutata) – was first appreciated by the Rowes (mostly Trota, actually) in a restaurant in Turin. Combining mare e monti (foods of the sea with foods of the land) can be tricky, so will she manage to pull it off?

To make your vellutata you will need: one can of chick peas, drained and rinsed, and 200ml of good quality stock (or 200ml water and ½ a stock cube if you are pressed for time). Simmer the chick peas in the stock for 4–5min and whizz with a hand blender. If you prefer a smooth texture you can pass it through a sieve. Set aside and keep warm.

For the pasta with mussels you will need: suitable medium-size pasta (the Rowes love calamarata but it’s not easy to find – Terroni of Clerkenwell sells it in London – otherwise you can use mezzi paccheri or shell types), a net of mussels, 2 cloves of garlic, a glass of white wine, a small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped.

Clean your mussels well (remove the beards and scrape the shells, make sure they close when tapped – discard any that don’t, wash thoroughly). Then in a pan heat 2tbsp olive oil, add both cloves of garlic and then the mussels. As they start to open, add the wine and the parsley and cook for a few minutes. Remove most of the mussels from their shells but leave a few intact for decorating the plate.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook your pasta al dente. When ready, mix the pasta with the mussels, a tbsp olive oil and a couple of tbsp of the cooking juices (filtered through a fine sieve).

To present, spoon a ladle of vellutata onto your plate, top with the pasta and mussels and decorate with some in their shells. Beautiful to look at, tasty and nutritious. Trota loves it – others, of course, will always be reaching for that tin of baked beans…

If you try it, tell us what you think.