The seafood in Sicily is something a seafood lover dreams of. Fish markets are everywhere with huge varieties of fresh fish and shellfish. Almost every restaurant has a big display case filled with fresh selections for the day. I think Sicilians are born with a taste for seafood. Literally in the grocery stores you will find baby food jars of Spigola (bass), Salmon, and Tuna. We started Luca off with these and luckily he was a fan, so I’m looking forward to future seafood dinners!
This dish brings everything Sicilian together, the Cozze (mussels) from the sea, the exotic spice of saffron from Mt. Etna (where saffron grows wild!), the tasty dry white wine, and the tomato sauce from its famous cherry tomatoes. Sicilia in Bocca!! (Sicily in your mouth)
- 1 lb linguine or spaghetti
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 12 oz tomato sauce
- 2 T chopped fresh basil
- 10 cherry tomatoes chopped
- 10-15 strands of saffron
- 2 pounds clean mussels
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 t crushed red pepper
- salt + pepper to taste
- 2 T chopped parsley
- 1 T grated lemon zest
Sorry the cherry tomatoes didnt it make it to the photo shoot. Also the little bottle in the top middle of the photo is Sicilian Salsa Pronta ( Ready Sauce), which is a great prepared tomato sauce using cherry tomatoes. Im not sure if they have something like this in the States? Would love to hear if they do or not, so I can prepare!
Make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go. There are going to be a lot of things moving here along with a lot of pots and pans.
Start bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a small pot bring 3 tablespoons of water to a boil. Take off heat and add the saffron to soak.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant – 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and saffron mixture. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Cover to keep warm. I like to stir in a little olive oil so that the pasta doesn’t get all sticky.
While the pasta is cooking, bring mussels and wine to a boil over high heat in a separate large saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until the mussels open, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the mussels with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. (Discard any unopened mussels.)
Strain 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mussel broth through a fine-mesh sieve fitted with a coffee filter into the tomato sauce. The sauce should be a soupy consistency. Stir in crushed red pepper and simmer over medium heat for a couple minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Put the pasta in a HUGE bowl. Ladle about half the sauce over the pasta and toss to coat. Put the mussels on top of the pasta. Spoon the remaining sauce over the mussels. Throw the parsley and lemon zest on top of the mussels and pasta. You do not need to do the Emeril and say “Bam” as you are throwing the zest and parsley on top. Dive in!