Thursday, July 14, 2005


Cozze con orzo e pomodori secchi (mussels with orzo and sun dried tomatoes)

Cozze con orzo e pomodori secchi (mussels with orzo and sun dried tomatoes)

This is a luscious and simple recipe. Great as a main course, or a starter for a grand feast. The mussels came from Prince Edward Island, since here in Massachusetts we are still plagued with the red tide. (This was typed before the end of the red tide. It is now officially over.)

2 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed clean
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped in pieces
1 (one) 14 1/2 oz. can of whole tomatoes
1 cup red wine
salt & pepper to taste
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup cooked orzo pasta
1/4 cup minced mixed herbs (parsley, mint, thyme, basil, etc.)
grated parmeggiano cheese (optional)
1 package of baby spinach leaves, washed, then wilted (the mussels are served on this bed of spinach)

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and then smash the anchovy fillets until they melt into the oil, add the garlic cloves and red onion and saute until tender. Add the sun dried tomatoes and the canned tomatoes, wine, s&p, red pepper flakes (opt.) When all the ingredients are heated through, add the washed mussels and cook on high heat until they open. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for one minute more.

Take off the heat. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and cook the orzo until al dente.

Place the washed spinach leaves on a microwave proof dish and microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes, until they are wilted. Sprinkle with olive oil.

After the mussels are cooked, add the orzo to the pan of mussels and stir until they fill the mussels' shells.Take the wilted spinach and place on a large platter.

Add the orzo and mussels over the spinach and serve imediately.

Pass the Tuscan bread and chianti.


I've always wondered the best way to prepare mussels. This recipe looks terrific, I'm planning to try it out this weekend,

Pattie minus 1
Another luscious picture!

I love mussels. When I was in Sicily 8 years ago, I had a wonderful zuppu de cozze, which was made with a rich tomato broth and served with a large hunk of homemade bread to sop up all the broth. It was so amazing. And since it was Sicily, it wasn't super expensive, either.

I'll eat mussels done just about any way. They're great just steamed plain, cooled off, and served with seafood coctail sauce, and I love them smoked, too. I actually prefer mussels to clams, though I'll never turn down a clam, either. At a fancy restaurant I at at in Halifax on my honeymoon, there was actually a mussel bar, where you could get a plate full of mussels done a few different ways. It was out of this world!

Didn't realize they were susceptible to red tide, but I guess it affects all bivalves.
I'll make this for my company next weekend. Thanks for another luscious recipe! One question--how do you know if the mussels are fresh? We get most of our shellfish shipped from Maine and I never know how long it's been sitting on ice.

I always, always give any fish the "sniff test."

I ask the fish monger to let me smell the shellfish. If there is any hint of an "off" odor (and believe me, you'll know what I mean about "off." Bad shell fish smell like a sewer!

Fresh shellfish and fin fish should have no smell at all, except maybe a saltwater scent.

And the mussels should be clamped shut. Any open shells should be discarded.

Also, for fin fish, the flesh should be shiny and when touched, should NOT leave a finger impression.

Good luck.
Isabella or Joanna -- it's Sandy from Boston at Via Val Verde. Remember me? How are you? I checked out your website. It is so cool. I haven't ventured too far, but I am hoping to find a grilled or sauteed calamari recipe. I am having Christmas dinner for 9 and it is going to be very Italian, except my mom insists on bring this zuchinni quiche -- well zuchinni is Italian, no? : ) I am going to have mussels marinara, clams in white, roasted red peppers, brocculi rabe, meatballs and sausage, pasta and a white fish. Over the pass few years when I have Christmas dinner, I been making the pasta and white fish with the white garlic sauce so you can combine them. One year I did Chilean Sea Bass; another year I did tilapia. I haven't decided yet for this year.

The picture I took of you and Ricardo came out very nice. Maybe I can scan it and send it you to. I will need an email address.

Take Care and keep in touch.

thanks for writing. You may reach me at

I'd love to see the photo!

I'll post a calamari recipe before the Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Maybe that will be helpful.

Take care and keep in touch.

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