Handmade Spaghetti with Mussels from La Spezia

In Food & Wine
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“The idea of this dish comes from the basic philosophy at the heart of our way of cooking: simplicity and meticulous care of the quality of raw materials, impeccable execution, a pinch of innovation”.

The Chefs from Palmaria Restaurant in Portovenere explain the concept behind this creative dish that mixes local ingredients from the Gulf of Poets and from the neighboring region of Tuscany.

The spaghetti chosen by the chefs are produced by the Martelli pasta factory in Lari, a town near Pisa, about 90 minutes away from Portovenere. Since it was founded in 1926, this family-owned business has been creating semolina pasta fully by hand, between slow gestures and vintage machinery. What an industrial pasta factory produces in five hours, is made by hand in one year in an artisanal pastificio like Martelli’s. The slow techniques at low temperatures enhance the flavour of the grain and the absorption of the sauce, and make the dough more easily digestible.

In this recipe, the spaghetti are masterfully cooked “al dente” and then, for the final cooking touch, they are added in the pan with the local mussels (muscoli) and sauce. The use of a fresh and unusual herb like dill, instead of the usual parsley, added right at the end, exalts the rich flavors of the dish.

Ingredients for 4 people:

  • Handmade Spaghetti by Martelli – 350 gr
  • Mussels from La Spezia (locally known as muscoli) – 1200 gr
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 80 gr
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Plum cherry tomatoes (pomodori datterini) – 300 gr
  • Fresh dill – 20 gr
  • Pepper and chilli pepper


Cut the garlic clove in half, remove the heart and gently fry in the oil, add the previously cleaned mussels and cook with the lid until they open. Then set aside the mussel meat and cooking liquid after you appropriately filter it.

Blanch the datterini in boiling water, peel and cut them into small cubes.

In a pan, add the cooking water mounted with an immersion blender with extra virgin olive oil.

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water. Once al dente, drain and sauté the spaghetti with the mussels, their cooking water, the datterini, minced pepper, chilli pepper and – only at the very end – some fresh dill.

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