Fresh Pasta Dumplings with Mussels and Beans (Cicatielli con Cozze e Fagioli)

Giallo Zafferano is one of the most popular Italian cooking websites, with anchorwoman Sonia Peronaci now on Italian TV daily with a recipe. Recently she presented Cicatielli con cozze e fagioli. The combination of mussels and beans was a new one to me, and to my surprise I really liked this dish when I prepared it myself. Cicatielli are a smaller version of Sardinian malloreddus, homemade pasta from semolina flour, water, and just a bit of olive oil for suppleness. The creaminess of the pureed beans, the texture of the pasta, beans, and mussels, and the flavor of the mussels with the aromatics all work very nicely together. Altogether it takes about an hour to make, including making the fresh pasta. The main thing I’ve changed compared to the original recipe is that I use less pasta and serve this is as piatto unico (the pasta dish as a full meal, not followed by a secondo and contorno of meat or fish and vegetables). You can cook the cannellini beans yourself, or buy a can or jar. In the later cases, rinse and drain the beans well before using.


For 2 servings

230 grams (1 1/4 cup) cooked cannellini beans

1 kg (2.2 lbs) mussels, cleaned

4 Tbsp minced spring onions, white part only

1 clove garlic

1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded, minced

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

some dry white wine (the same as you will be drinking with the dish)

For the cicatielli

140 grams (about 1 cup) semolina flour

75 ml (about 1/3 cup) water

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil


Start by making the pasta dough. Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the water. (Of course you could also mix and knead the dough by hand instead.)

Add the olive oil.

Process with the paddle attachment until the dough comes together. You may need to add a bit more water (just a few drops at a time to avoid adding too much) if the dough doesn’t come together, or a bit more flour if it is too sticky.

The dough should only be slightly sticky.

Change over to the dough hook, and knead at medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for half an hour at a cool place outside of the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the spring onion, chili pepper, and whole garlic clove, and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, making sure that the onion doesn’t color.

After those 10 minutes, add the beans, stir, and cook over very low heat for another 10 minutes. As the beans are already cooked, this step is intended to flavor the beans.

Meanwhile, put the mussels in the casserole with a bit of white wine.

Close the casserole and cook over high heat just until the mussels have opened, then turn off the heat.

Drain the mussels, catching the liquid they release.

Leftover parts of an old coffeemaker come in handy for filtering.

Filter the mussel liquid with kitchen paper or cheese cloth.

Allow the mussels to cool off until you can handle them, then take the mussel meat out of the shells. Keep some mussels in the shell for decorating the plate.

To make the cicatielli, take a piece of the pasta dough and roll it out with your hands until you obtain a thin sausage. This is easiest on a wooden work surface. Cicatielli should be small, so the sausage should be thinner than your pinkie.

Cut the sausage into dumplings. Officially you are supposed to put grooves on them using a fork or a wooden gadget with ridges that Italians use for this, but that isn’t really necessary. Repeat until you have used up all of the dough.

Arrange the cicatielli on a dry kitchen towel sprinkled with flour.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Once the beans have absorbed the flavors of the onions, garlic and chili, take half of them out and cover them with the filtered mussel liquid.

Puree with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender).

Add the pureed beans back to the pan with the beans that are still whole. Discard the garlic clove.

Add the mussels to the beans. Keep warm over low heat.

Add salt and the cicatielli to the boiling water.

Wait until they rise to the surface, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon…

…and add them to the mussels and beans.

Cook the cicatielli and beans for a couple of minutes, then add the parsley.

Serve on preheated plates, decorated with the reserved mussels.

Wine pairing

We enjoyed this with a Fiano di Avellino. Another full-bodied unoaked dry Italian white with a bit of creaminess would work as well.


Homemade tempura isn’t easy to get right, which is no wonder as in Japan it takes three years of training to become a tempura chef. But it’s not that hard to get better homemade tempura than what you get in most restaurants outside of Japan, with a lighter crispier crust and with a better dipping sauce.


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