Black Mussels with Chorizo, Chilli, Tomato and Pearl Pasta

23 Apr

Here is another recipe from our day of cooking.

This recipe is by Karen Martini, a Melbourne chef, and is a long favourite of mine. It isn’t loads of work, but tastes spectacular. It comes from her book Where The Heart Is.

I started by making the sauce, so it had a little time to cook and the flavours to meld while I prepared everything else.

I chopped up some chorizo, and then sautéed it in a large saucepan with a little olive oil on medium to high heat. You want it to crisp up a little bit.

While that cooked, I chopped up some shallots, and red chilli. Also some garlic.

I added them in to the chorizo when it was ready… along with some saffron and a bay leaf or two, and let the shallots cook until translucent.

When they looked lovely and cooked, I added in a bottle of tomato sugo, sometimes called passata. This one here is my favourite, and I use it pretty much always instead of tinned tomatoes. It has better flavour and tastes as though it has been cooked through. Sorry I have no picture of the sauce with the sugo added, but I just let it simmer happily on the stove as I prepared the rest of the ingredients.

I cooked some risoni pasta (pasta that is in the shape of rice) in boiling water in another pot, and then left it aside in a colander  with a tiny bit of olive oil mixed through it to keep it from getting sticky. Any small pasta would work, or even a large couscous. Imagine a picture here please.

I also chopped up some parsley in advance of the next stage… cooking the mussels. Pictorial imagination would be terrific here too.

I had stored the mussels in a colander in the fridge, wrapped in a damp tea towel. They last a day or two like this.

I cleaned and bearded the mussels. Basically scrub off any stuff you can from the shells, and pull down in the grubby beard until you detach it, which takes a bit of force.

Then in another pot, I poured in some wine and added half the mussels. I put the lid on and cooked on high for about three minutes, until the mussels had opened. I used tongs to remove the mussels to a bowl, and added the remaining mussels to the wine and repeated the cooking process. I pulled the top shell off all of the mussels in the bowl. Sometimes I also pull the tops off the second batch too, just depends on how I feel. It is easier to eat them when the top shell is removed, it is just that they look so good with both shells on.

When all of the mussels were cooked, I put both batches along with their cooking liquid, and the cooked risoni and parsley in to the red sauce and gave it a mix.

I serve it in the pot… or ladle it in to a serving bowl and let people serve themselves.

I have never added the extra oil at the end like the original recipe says.

And that is it!  A few cooking pots strewn along the wayside, but pretty quick to make.

Place a bowl on the table for your discarded shells… and serve with a fork and a spoon pasta style.  The pasta and sauce manages to mingle through in to each and every mussel. There is lots of scooping and slurping, it is a tactile dish.



by Karen Martini 


100 ml olive oil
250 g hot chorizo sausage, finely chopped. Best if the chorizo has some age to it.
6 golden shallots, finely sliced, or diced
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 small red chillies, finely sliced
1 bay leaf
2 pinches saffron threads
2 cups tomato sugo (passata) or crushed tomatoes
300g dried small pasta such as risoni or iranian couscous
300ml dry white wine
1.5 kg black mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley chopped

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Fry chorizo for 6-8 minutes or until it begins to brown. Add golden shallots, garlic, chillies, bay leaf and saffron and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Pour in tomato sugo, stir, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the pasta to a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water. Stir and bring the water back to the boil, then cook for 5 minutes. Drain, then mix 2 tablespoons of the olive oil through the pasta. Cover and keep warm.

Pour wine in to a large saucepan and add half the mussels. Cook covered, over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until mussels open. Remove mussels and discard any that have not opened. Repeat with remaining mussels. Remove top shells from half the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Add chorizo mixture, parsley, pasta and mussels to the cooking liquid and bring to a simmer over high heat. Drizzle over remaining olive oil and serve.

Serves 4 (generously).

2 Responses to “Black Mussels with Chorizo, Chilli, Tomato and Pearl Pasta”

  1. Brenda 23/04/2012 at 1:32 pm #

    This was such a light, but hearty dish. It was gorgeously slurpy and had a great rich flavor without overwhelming the mussels. Ummmm, the mussels were huge and fresh and tender and so sooooo yummy! (ok, I’m making myself drool here.)

  2. Gourmet Secrets 14/06/2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Besides of been a luxury dish it looks amazing and very tasty. Nice explanation on how to make it.

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