Pasta e fagioli with mussels, "Pasta fagioli e cozze" in Italian, is a traditional Neapolitan pasta dish that pairs beans and mussels in a "soupy" pasta dish. A luxurious array of textures and flavors for a soulful, comforting, delightful Italian meal!
[This post is sponsored by Ontario Beans. All ideas are our own.]
A late bloomer
I have always been a late bloomer, even with food. Mussels did not come into my world until I was in my late twenties. Some clients of mine took me out for dinner at a local gastro pub, one that I had never gone to, a second first for me. Mussels in white wine sauce is what they had ordered for us, and I have to tell you I was a bit nervous at first, however, when I dove in with the bread to taste the sauce and scooped out one of the mussels, I was in heaven. Juicy, plump, sweet. The sauce was incredible and that crusty bread was the perfect vehicle to get some of that goodness from the bottom of the dish.
The rest is really history, and today's dish features mussels and cannellini beans. The pairing is truly a match made in heaven and Nicoletta and I are so excited to share this one with you! Come let's do some shopping!
Our shopping list for Pasta e fagioli with mussels
This recipe is so simple and requires next to nothing for ingredients. One thing I have to mention is that for the mussels we usually go buy them from someone we know has them fresh. I ask our fish monger when the shipment comes in and go get them right away, and no more than a day after, very important! Now let's look at our shopping list:
- Fresh mussels
- Large can of Cannellini beans
- Cherry, grape, or cocktail tomatoes
- Evo oil
- Red chili flakes (peperoncino)
- Mafalde corte, ditalini, or short mixed pasta
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh flatleaf parsley
Cleaning and steaming the mussels
Here is where you need a little elbow grease. The mussels need to be scrubbed and rinsed in cold water, and there is a beard which is like a thread that usually hangs from the seam of the shell, we want that gone.
Let me show you how to do it:
- Place the mussels into a bowl of cold water. If you see any of the mussels are open, tap them on the side of the sink. if they do not close throw those away.
- With a potato scrubber, scrub the outside of the shell, and rinse under cold running water. Pull any beard that you find out and off, and place the mussel into a clean bowl of cold water. Do this until all the mussels are cleaned.
- In a large sauté pan, place the mussels and pour in a ¼ cup of water. Turn heat to medium/high, and cover with lid. Let that simmer for about 10 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan to move the mussels around the pan. If you see the water dissipating too much, add some more.
- While the mussels are steaming, cut your tomatoes into quarters, and rinse your canned cannellini beans under cold running water. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the beans and place in a blender, or hand blender cup.
- Take mussels out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and put them into a bowl. Take half of the mussels out of their shells discard those shells, and leave half the mussels in their shells for presentation of the dish. Discard any of the mussels that did not open.
- Pour the cooking water into a glass through a sieve to filter out sand or particles. Pour the filtered cooking water over the mussels to keep them moist. Reserve a couple tablespoons, and pour it with the beans you put aside. Add a bit of evo oil and blend until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
The sauce for Pasta e fagioli with mussels
- Wipe down the sauté pan that the mussels cooked in. Drizzle in evo oil, sprinkle in red chili flakes, and throw in garlic clove. Turn heat to a medium and when the garlic starts to sizzle, add the cherry tomatoes, and beans. Season with pepper, and let that sauté for about 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary, but remember that the mussel water is quite salty. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley over the top.
- Put a large pot of salted water on boil. When it comes to a boil, throw in your pasta and cook for half of the recommended time on the package.
Pasta e fagioli with mussels, putting it all together
- Pour the mussel cooking water into the pan with the tomato and cannellini beans, along with a ladle of the pasta cooking water. Turn heat to a medium to high setting.
- With a slotted spoon or pasta sieve, take pasta out, and place in the pan with the sauce.
- Stirring often, continue cooking the pasta until the sauce begins to thicken. Add creamed beans, and blend until incorporated.
- Cook for the last half of the recommended cooking time on the package. Taste for seasoning and desired al dente texture. Add more pasta water if it seems to be getting too dry.
- Towards the end add the mussels, stir, then turn off heat.
- Ladle into bowls making sure to top with a few mussels in the shell, some evo oil, a grating of pepper, and fresh chopped parsley.
- This Pasta e fagioli with mussels is ready to serve.
Time for a taste!
First of all I love how creamy that sauce is and how plump those mussels look. Just entices me to get right in there. The pasta is perfectly al dente. The sauce coats the pasta well offering sweetness, spice from the chili flakes, and that wonderful flavor of the mussels and creamy beans.
The cannellini are so earthy, and velvety, and pair well with the sweetness of the tomatoes. That explosion of flavor from the mussels, juicy, tender and plump, is a welcomed treat. Fresh parsley always balances the mix with a bit of pepperiness and freshness. All in all, a very luxurious plate of pasta.
How long can you keep this Pasta e fagioli with mussels?
Our motto is always eat as fresh as possible. For this dish because it has mussels in it, we would only keep it in the fridge for the day after. If there is leftovers, that is, lol.
How to re-heat this pasta dish?
Our preferred way to heat up the leftover Pasta e fagioli with mussels is to do it in a sauté pan. Just drizzle a little olive oil into the pan, add the leftover pasta and just a smidge of water. Heat on a low to medium setting until warmed through. You could use a microwave, however I find that the heat is all over the place and it kills the texture and flavor somewhat.
For us Italians pasta is a staple, and there are so many different pasta dishes all throughout Italy. This Pasta e fagioli with mussels from Napoli, is an example of how simple great quality ingredients and a passion to prepare them, result in a most wonderful tasty, and beautiful plate of pasta. Thanks so much for joining us in our kitchen. We love that you are trying these tried and true recipes with us, and we hope we have inspired your curiosity for Italian regional cuisine.
Pasta e fagioli with mussels
Pasta e fagioli with mussels, "Pasta fagioli e cozze" in Italian, is a traditional Neapolitan pasta dish that pairs beans and mussels in a "soupy" pasta dish. A luxurious array of texture and flavor for a soulful, comforting, delightful Italian meal!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: serves 4 people 1x
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
- 2 pounds, 1 kg mussels
- 1 large can or jar of cannellini beans
- 200 g cherry/grape tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbsp evo oil
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh chopped flatleaf parsley
- 280 g short pasta like mafalde corte, mixed shape pasta, ditalini
For the mussels:
- Clean the mussels well, and wash them under cold running water. Discard any that are open and don't close when you tap them.
- Place in a large saute pan, drizzle a ¼ cup of cold water in, cover with a lid and turn the heat on to medium/high. Shake the pan once in a while and cook for a few minutes or until most of the mussels are open, about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and with a slotted spoon transfer the mussels to a large bowl. Discard the mussels that are closed, and remove most of the mussels from the shell, leaving some in the shell for plating and presentation.
- Strain the pan juices through a fine mesh and cover the mussels with the strained liquid.
For the beans:
- Wash the beans under cold running water. Transfer 2-3 tablespoons to a blender. Add a teaspoon of evo oil and some of the mussels liquid. Puree until creamy. Set aside.
For the sauce:
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half or quarters. Mince the parsley.
- In a large sauté pan, add evo oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the cherry tomatoes and the beans, and stir. Sauté for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with parsley.
- Have a large pot of salted water on boil. Add your pasta and cook for half the cooking time.
- Add the mussel water to the pan with the bean and tomatoes, plus a ladle of pasta water.
- With a slotted spoon remove the pasta from the water and place it in the pan with the sauce over medium/high heat.
- Stirring often, continue cooking the pasta in the liquid. When it is starting to thicken, add the creamy beans. Blend well. If it seems too dry, add more pasta water. Cook for the remaining half of the time recommended on the pasta package. Taste to see it is at the desired texture and seasoning, adjust if needed.
- At almost the end of the cooking time, add the mussels and stir.
- Finish with a drizzle of evo oil, some minced parsley, and black pepper.
This pasta will last up to one day after, in thr fridge.
To re-heat pasta, drizzle a bit of olive oil into a sauté pan, add leftover pasta, and a smidge of water. Heat through on a low to medium setting until warmed through.
When I am not cooking, I enjoy playing musical instruments, singing, writing. I have learned over the years to live in gratitude and enjoy the moment.