1674129988 Tarantine Shells

Tarantine Shells

Tarantine Shells

Apulian cuisine is governed by some very fundamental principles: sun, sand, sea and orecchiette. It takes shape in simple, flavorful dishes, where fresh fish and shellfish are usually the protagonists. In many coastal areas, traditional seafood recipes were originally dishes prepared in port or directly on the boats, with freshly caught fish and basic products that could be transported: garlic, onions, dried cayenne peppers, tomatoes, potatoes. Rice…. Some examples are the emblanco from Málaga, the cim i tomba from Tossa de Mar, the suquet, the stew… Returning to southern Italy we find le cozze alla tarantina, tarantina-style mussels.

As is usual with traditional recipes, the processes and ingredients are adapted to the house and the hand that prepares them. That part of a garlic, cayenne and tomato sauce to which fresh mussels, parsley and lots of pepper are added. Some steam the mussels first, reserving the released liquid to add to the stir-fries they prepare separately, incorporating the mussels last. I’m all for optimizing the casserole, so I cook the sauce until it’s very reduced, put the cleaned mussels on top, put the lid on and leave it open: the result is a thick and flavorful sauce with lots of possibilities.

They can be eaten as is, as a seafood soup — without catching any of the chili peppers that might be swimming in the delicious broth — or drenched with bread, pasta, or rice. The easiest way is to place a few slices of toasted bread with oil and garlic at the bottom of the bowl that we will later serve the mussels in. Once soaked, it’s a wonderful thickener, adding body to the sauce.

To prepare a pasta or rice – this can also be done the next day when we have eaten the mussels and have leftovers – simply remove the mussels after opening them and add half a glass of rice or pastina (small soup paste). If there is little liquid, you can add a little more water and that’s it. While it’s cooking — pasta usually takes five minutes, rice about 16 minutes — take the opportunity to pop some mussels out of their shells. Once off the heat, add the mussels to the stew and serve immediately.


Remove the beards from the shells, which sometimes resist a bit.


  • 1 kg of mussels
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 dried cayenne peppers
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Place the mussels in a large bowl covered with water with three tablespoons of salt. Leave in the fridge for two hours.

  • Clean the mussels with a point and remove the beard.

  • Chop the garlic cloves and cut the tomato into small cubes. In a large saucepan, sauté the garlic and cayenne pepper in oil until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes.

  • Add the concentrated tomato and white wine. Let reduce until the alcohol has evaporated.

  • Add the mussels and cover with the lid. Cook for three or four minutes. When they open, remove from the heat and add the chopped parsley. Serve at the moment.

  • If you make this recipe, share the result on your social networks with the hashtag #RecipesComidista. And if it goes wrong, complain to the Defender of the Cook by sending an email to [email protected].