This is a fun period to write my blog as my suocera (mother-in-law) Adelina is now visiting us for a month! For those of you who follow my blog religiously, you’ll know that she is the inspiration for many of the cooking posts and she teaches me the basics of Italian cuisine. Of course, Enzo is with us too. He is my suocero (father-in-law). For many, the idea of the in-laws living in one’s space for a month at a time is a horror story, for us, it is an enjoyable experience!
Adelina invented the recipe pictured in the photo above based on her love for the Italian classic, spaghetti allo scoglio. Scoglio means rock, particularly a rock along the sea. So, the variety of recipes for spaghetti allo scoglio include local varieties of shell fish (the sea food found among the rocks). The two basics that are in most recipes are clams and mussels. Other crustaceans are used based on the season and the availability in the market.
Before getting to the recipe, I want to share a trick that Enzo brought from Italy. While we were at work one day, he went around to all the squeaky door hinges in the house and silenced them. And, of course it did it with a fine Italian extra virgin olive oil. I never would have thought of that, but he went around, put a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel and gently massaged it into the hinges. He assures me that the oil doesn’t have to be extra virgin. . . but trust me, it’s nice to have quiet doors.
Back to our recipe. . . I asked Adelina how she decided to make the scoglio this way and she said “because it came into my mind”! I followed up with another question and she said, “because I wanted pasta and mussels, the clams here aren’t good in pasta.” Notice how her Italian origins came out. She’s going with the scoglio idea but using the best of the local. She’s right that the clams around here might be great for frying, but they are not as nice as the small Mediterranean clams called veraci.
So, here’s what she made for us:
Ingredients: (serves 6)
- 16 ounces of spaghetti
- 10 ounces of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes pureed in the food processor
- 1 pound of cozze (mussels)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- a pinch of red pepper
- place the cozze in a pot for 3-4 minutes without water so that they open up
- set aside to cool
- heat oil, add garlic till lightly browned
- add the pureed tomatoes and water (filtered) of the coze and reduce (20-30 minutes)
- add pinch of red pepper
- leave some of the cozze in shells and take the rest out
- just before adding the boiled spaghetti, add the cozze
- when the pasta is al dente, put it in the sauce, and add about 1/2 cup of water from the cooked pasta and some parsley
- cook a couple of minutes in the sauce with the heat on medium for a couple of minutes for the pasta to take on the flavor of the pasta