Making Mussel Paccheri Like a Chef

I was at Maccheroni talking to Christine, the owner, about the details of our joined party.  While going through the details of the event, Christine made me a dish to try which will soon be introduced to the restaurant. Chef Salvatore was there at the time, and he shared how he came up with the dish. After chatting, I thought it would be fun to make a very authentic Italian dish. I asked Salvatore. and he said yes immediately.

Seafood and pizzas are big in Salvatore’s Italian hometown. I asked what we would make, and he said he did not know. This was the first time I got this response. We set the time for the session. On the day we did the shooting, Salvatore said, “We are going to make paccheri with mussels and chickpeas.”

I asked him why this dish, and his reply was “Because I feel like it today!”

My camera girl, Yu Hong, and I usually have a quick walk through the overall steps before we do the cooking and shooting. I felt I would be in a big trouble about halfway through the briefing session due to all the steps.

Paccheri with mussels and chickpeas

As expected, all the steps made it a difficult dish; however, Salvatore thought it was almost perfect. A little bit spicy, but that is how he likes it. Salvatore said I can come anytime to work in his kitchen, but I think he was being nice.

After tasting, I really want to try it again at home.

Prepare the mussel water

• Step 1: Put olive oil and half a clove of garlic in a hot pan.
• Step 2: Add 4 mussels and cover on a medium heat.
• Step 3: Wait until the mussels open and add half a glass of white wine.
• Step 4: Wait until the white wine is absorbed into the mussels and take the mussels out.
• Step 5: Set aside the mussel water to use later.
• Step 6: Remove the mussels from the shells.

Prepare the chickpea puree

• Step 1: Combine olive oil, half a clove of garlic, half a can of chickpeas and a dash of parsley in a hot pan.
• Step 3: Add a spoonful of the mussel water and let simmer on a medium heat for 7 minutes or until the chickpeas become soft.
• Step 4: Put in a blender with a dash of parmesan cheese and olive oil, and blend until smooth. The chickpea puree is ready.

Prepare the tomato mussel sauce

• Step 1: Put olive oil and half a clove of garlic in a hot pan.
• Step 2: Halve 20 small tomatoes and slightly squish the tomatoes before adding to the pan.
• Step 3: Add a pinch of basil and parsley.
• Step 4: Add one small red pepper (optional).
• Step 5: Add mussels and cook for 6 minutes.
• Step 6: Add a little bit of mussel water.
• Step 7: Take the mussels out and set aside (put a little of the tomato sauce on top).
• Step 8: Add chickpea puree.

Prepare the final product

• Step 1: Boil 8 pieces of parccheri for 12 minutes.
• Step 2: Drain and put in a pan with the tomato sauce.
• Step 3: Add the rest of the mussel water inside.
• Step 4: Chop parsley into fine pieces and to the pan.
• Step 5: Simmer for a minute, before serving.
• Step 6: Layer the ingredients on a large plate from bottom to top: paccheri, mussels, tomato sauce, a bit of grated lemon rind and parsley.