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Recipe of the Month - February 2009

Spaghetti coi moscioli - spaghetti with mussels Portonovo style

Le Marche remains one of the still mainly undiscovered regions of Italy. It’s a region that presents contrasts, above all between the Adriatic sea and the inland hinterland. In the gentle hills that rise from the coast and lead up to the mountains, hearty foods contrast with the cucina di mare of the coast.

Meanwhile, back by the sea, moscioli - the local name for mussels (cozze in Italian) - are cultivated in the protected bay of Portonovo and harvested and served in any number of simple trattoria, tables by the beach, the sea literally lapping at your feet. These Adriatic mussels are outstanding, but ours from the Exe estuary are just as tasty! So I love to recreate the flavours of Le Marche here in Topsham, with local mussels purchased from Derek Thorman’s fish van or from David Kerley at the Fish Shed.

Steamed in wine and served in a light tomato sauce over pasta, they are delicious, accompanied with a glass or two of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi. Like the region itself, Verdicchio (it’s also the name of the grape) is one of the great, undiscovered wines of Italy, combining structure and body with clean, pure fruit flavours. It’s no wonder that Loretello, made by our good friend Giuditta Politi, is our favourite and best selling Vino white.

(Serves 4)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 red chili pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tin chopped organic tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 kg live mussels
2 glasses dry white wine
1 lb spaghetti

Scrub and clean the mussels, discarding any that do not close when given a sharp tap. Rinse well. Take about half the chopped onion, garlic and chili and add to a pot together with the dry white wine. Bring to the boil. Throw in the mussels, cover and steam for 4-5 minutes, until all the mussels have opened. Set aside, reserving the cooking liquid. When cool, remove the mussels from their shells, reserving a dozen or so to garnish.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over a medium flame and sautee the remaining onion, garlic and chili for 5 minutes, taking care not to burn. Add the tinned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, add a few ladles of the mussel cooking liquid to make a thinnish but flavourful sauce. Add the cooked mussels a few minutes before serving and keep warm.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Mix well with the tomato and mussel sauce, and serve, garnishing each bowl with a few mussels in the shell.

Wine: Loretello Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2007 of course. Nothing else will do!

This recipe will be on the menu at The Globe throughout February, served together with Loretello Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2007. Loretello is imported direct and available exclusively from Vino.



Copyright Marc Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved
Images copyright Kim Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved

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