Another great dish to share, like the Cheese Fondue, this Mussels “Peppetedda” recipe by Julia Della Croce from Italian Home Cooking (Kyle Books) is sure to please many.
6 pound s fresh, medium-size mussels
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, minced
3 large cloves garlic, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup fresh or canned vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained
1 teaspoon hot paprika, or 1teaspoon sweet paprika and generous pinch red pepper flakes
11/2 cups good-quality dry white wine
loaf of crusty artisan bread, sliced...
Here is another seafood recipe from Puglia, my father’s home region on the Adriatic coast.
Peppetedda means “peppery” in Pugliese dialect, referring to the hot paprika used. I tasted this dish when I traveled to Puglia for the first time to discover my paternal family’s roots. Like most fare of the region, it is boldly flavored and simple in its execution. Remember to only buy mussels that are tightly closed.
1. With a very stiff brush, scrub the mussels well. Pull or cut off their beards. Use a small sharp knife to scrape off any barnacles. Wash them under cold running water to remove any traces of sand. Place the mussels in a large bowl with enough cold water to cover to cleanse them of any sand, soaking for 1 to 3 hours. Rinse again, discarding any that open or whose shells are not very tightly shut.
2. In a heavy Dutch oven large enough to easily accommodate the mussels, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion wilts, about 4 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and continue to sauté for another few minutes until the onion is transparent. Add the tomatoes and the hot paprika or sweet paprika and red pepper flakes; simmer over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, about 7 minutes. Add the mussels, and using a wooden spoon, toss them with the sauce in the pan. Pour in the wine. Cover tightly and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes more, or until the mussels are fully open. Remove from the heat.
3. Discard any unopened mussels and divide the rest among 4 shallow bowls. Use a large spoon or ladle to spoon the mussel broth over each bowl, trying not to stir up the bottom, which may contain errant sand. Serve with plenty of bread.
(* Recipe by Julia della Croce from 'Italian Home Cooking' (2010) reproduced by permission of Kyle Books, photography by Christopher Hirsheimer)