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Troccoli con cime di rapa e cozze

Fresh spaghetti with broccoli rabe and mussels


For making the troccoli

  • 400g 14 oz semola rimacinata (finely ground semolina flour)
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1 egg optional
  • 200ml 7 fl oz 200ml (7 fl oz) water or as much as you need

For the mussels

  • 1 kilo 2 lbs mussels or one net bag
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and lightly crushed
  • olive oil
  • white wine

To finish the dish

  • 1 bunch 1 bunch broccoli rabe, just the tender shoots and leaves cut into short lengths
  • 1-2 cloves garlic peeled and lightly crushed
  • olive oil
  • 250g 1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half crosswise (optional)
  • 1 1 dried red pepper aka peperoncino optional


Making the troccoli

  • Place the semolina flour in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Mix well, then add the egg (if using) and incorporate. Then add, bit by bit, as much water as you need to form a fairly stiff but workable dough. 
  • Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic and not at all tacky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for a half hour or more.
  • Roll the dough out about 3mm (1/8 in) thick using a pasta machine or rolling pin. (If you're using a pasta machine, use roller setting 1.)
  • Cut the dough into strands about 3mm (1/8 in) wide. Traditionally, this is done with a special purpose ridged rolling pin called a troccolaturo, but if you don't want to buy one, then there are other methods (see Notes for details). 
  • Flour your troccoli well to prevent sticking and set them on a cutting board or pasta rack to dry. 

Preparing the mussels

  • In a large pot, sauté the garlic very lightly in a bit of olive oil. Add the mussels, which you will have rinsed quickly to remove any external grit and trimmed of any byssal threads aka 'beards', along with a drizzle of white wine, and cover.
  • Let the mussels steam in the pot, shaking them from time to time, until all the mussels have opened. Remove the pot from the heat, and let the mussels cool, uncovered.
  • Remove the mussels from their shells and place in a bowl. (If you like you can leave a few in their shells for decorating the final dish.) Strain the mussel juice left in the bottom of the pot and pour over the mussels.

Cooking the pasta and finishing the dish

  • Bring well salted water to a boil in a large pot, then add troccoli and the broccoli rabe. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the troccoli are al dente.
  • Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan or skillet, sauté the garlic cloves (and the peperoncino, if using) in abundant olive oil. Add the tomatoes if using and let them sauté for a minute or two until just slightly softened. Discard the garlic and peperoncino.
  • Add the reserved mussels and their juices. Let the juices reduce a bit if they're especially abundant. Turn off heat until the pasta is ready.
  • When the pasta is al dente, transfer it and broccoli rabe to the pan using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, and give it all a good toss over a lively flame, adding a bit of pasta water if need be to keep things moist. Keep tossing until the pasta and its condimento are well mixed, and the pasta has absorbed most of the liquid. 
  • Serve immediately.