Mafaldine with Mussels, Broccoli Rabe, and Tomatoes in Broth is a popular southern Italian specialty served as a primo or secondo. One of the most satisfying and nutritious ways to enjoy pasta is in a broth-based sauce. Like a thick stew, this dish is chock full of tender mussels, broccoli rabe, and fresh tomatoes. Easy to make, it adapts well to a variety of dry pasta cuts so double or triple the recipe quantities as you wish. After indulgent holidays, this pasta dish is ideal for anyone watching their caloric intake as well as for religious Lenten meals. It looks so colorful and tastes so good that everyone tucks in with spoon, fork, and warm crusty bread enjoying hearty pasta that is low in calories.
4 servings as a first course or 2 as a main course. Cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes.
2 pounds (907 g) medium-size raw mussels in their shells, cleaned
OR if fresh mussels in their shells are unavailable, purchase 10 ounces (284 g) shelled cooked mussels
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (24 ounces or 710 ml) Italian dry white wine
Preparing the Mussels: Discard any opened raw mussels. Under cold running water, scrub the shells with a stiff-bristled brush, drain. Pour a small amount of olive oil in a deep pot, arrange the raw mussels in a thick even layer and cover. Over high heat, cook for about 2 minutes Remove the cover, pour in the white wine to create the broth, re-cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the shells open. Turn off the heat, cool down. Discard any unopened cooked mussels. Remove mussels from their shells and reserve mussels, discard shells. Strain the mussel broth to remove sand from the opened cooked shells. Reserve mussel broth for the pasta sauce.
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound (454 g) mini San Marzano tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, quartered lengthwise, seeded (2 cups or 473 ml volume)
1/2 bunch broccoli rabe or rapini, steamed or boiled, cut into short lengths (2 cups or 473 ml volume)
4 cups (946 ml) mussel broth, or as much as you like
Shelled cooked mussels
Sea salt to taste
1 pound (454 g) mafaldine, reginette, or ricci pasta (Select any ribbon cut)
1. Boiling the Pasta: In a deep pot, bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the mafaldine or other pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent the strands from sticking together. Boil the pasta until firm al dente, because it continues to cook when combined with the broth sauce.
2. Making the Sauce: Meanwhile, in a broad non-stick pan, warm the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic for seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and saute for a minute, then add the cooked broccoli rabe and stir. Pour in the mussel broth and simmer for a few minutes. Turn the heat to high. Drain the cooked pasta leaving just a little water clinging to the strands and add it to the simmering sauce. Heat, toss, add the cooked mussels and simmer for 2 minutes to completely heat through. Taste, season with salt to taste if needed. Ladle the pasta into broad bowls and serve.