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.
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
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.
Filter the mussel liquid with kitchen paper or cheese cloth.
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.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
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.