Spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina.

Spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina.

Many people prefer to eat seafood in restaurants, rather than cook it at home. However, many seafood dishes, especially seafood pasta recipes, are really not difficult to make and don’t leave your house smelling of fish! This spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina is one such dish. It’s unbelievably tasty, easy to prepare and will definitely impress your guests!

spaghetti with mussels alla tarantina

Pasta con cozze alla Tarantina.

When it comes to pasta with shellfish our go-to dish is usually linguine with clams (vongole). But, I had some great pasta with mussels during a recent trip to Puglia and wanted to do something similar at home. Actually, in this case, I didn’t cook the dish, I just requested it! My Sicilian hubby was the chef as he’s the seafood cook a casa nostra! He made this spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina that was not only a dream but can actually be served without pasta, as a finger-licking first course along with some bread to mop up the spicy tomato sauce! 

spaghetti with mussels alla tarantina

Mussels from Puglia.

This recipe comes from the province of Taranto, in Puglia. There mussels, known as Tarantine mussels, have been cultivated for over 1000 years! These mussels are quite large and have a whitish colour. They are famous for their sweet taste. Today, Taranto apparently has the largest production of farmed Mediterranean mussels in the world.

spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina ingredients

Tarantine mussels are grown on ropes and nets suspended over poles and wooden structure in the Mar Piccolo (little sea). There, a mixture of fresh water from 34 underground springs mixes with salt water to provide a special marine environment that creates favourable conditions for mussels and other kinds of fish and shellfish.

fresh mussels cooking in skillet

As you can imagine, mussels are an important ingredient in Apulian seafood cuisine and there are some wonderful recipes for mussels from there. Sadly, I couldn’t find Tarantine mussels, the ones we used were very good however and combined with the Apulian way of preparing them, made for a fabulous plate of pasta, that looked and tasted as good, or even better, as similar dishes I’ve had in restaurants.

mussels alla tarantina without pasta

Alla Tarantina is delicious without pasta too!

We used spaghetti all chitarra (also popular in Puglia) for this dish but you can also use normal spaghetti or linguine. You can use fresh tomatoes or a good quality tomato passata and fresh or dried peperoncino.

There are some different versions of this recipe, for example without any mussels in their shells, or without wine. But, I loved having those mussel shells on my plate.  And of course if you eat this sauce without pasta, you definitely need to keep most the mussels in their shells, otherwise you’ll have no reason to lick your fingers!

spaghetti with mussels alla tarantina

If you do make this spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

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Buon Appetito!

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spaghetti with mussels alla tarantina

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Other shellfish pasta recipes.

  1. Sardinian fregola with clams
  2. Pasta with mussels and black beans
  3. Linguine alle vongole (with clams)
5 from 14 votes
spaghetti with mussels alla tarantina
Spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina.
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins

This traditional spaghetti with mussels alla Tarantina from Puglia in Southern Italy is unbelievably tasty, easy to prepare and will definitely impress your guests! An authentic Italian pasta recipe!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Puglia, Southern Italian
Keyword: alla tarantina, cozze, mussels, pasta with mussels, seafood, seafood pasta, spaghetti
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 1 kg fresh mussels (2.2lbs)
  • 400 g spaghetti alla chitarra (14oz) or normal spaghetti or linguine
  • 500 g small tomatoes (13.5oz) cut into quarters or 350 g tomato passata
  • 1 tsp peperoncino flakes (red chilli pepper) or chopped fresh peperoncino
  • 3 garlic cloves 2 chopped finely, 1 only peeled
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh parsley chopped
  • 100 ml white wine (3.5floz)
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  1. Wash the mussels well. remove all the debris on the shells with a wire brush and remove the beards. 

  2. Put a deep pan or skillet on the stove with 2 tbsp. of olive oil, the peeled garlic clove and some chopped parsley.

  3. Warm the oil up a little, then add the mussels and the white wine. Allow the alcohol to evaporate then cover with a lid. Take the pan off the heat as soon as the shells have opened.

  4. Allow the mussels to cool down a little, then discard all the mussels that didn't open. Keep 3-4 mussels per person in their shells and remove the other mussels from their shells. Filter the mussel cooking liquid and set aside.

  5. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. When it starts to boil add salt.

  6. In a frying pan, sauté the chopped garlic and peperoncino flakes in 2 tbsp of olive oil, add the finely chopped tomatoes or tomato passata, a pinch of salt and a little pepper. Simmer over a low heat for 5-10 minutes.

  7. Add the all the mussels (with shells and without) and their filtered cooking liquid to the tomato sauce.

  8. Mix well and continue cooking over a low heat for a few minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a good consistency.

  9. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.

  10. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan with the mussels and tomato sauce. Mix everything together well. Plate the pasta and mussels allocating a 3-4 mussels in their shells to each plate.

  11. Serve sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley.

Recipe Notes

This dish can also be eaten with bread instead of pasta. However, in that case, it's better to leave most the mussels in their shells.

You can make this dish spicier by adding more peperoncino, depending on how spicy you like it!

This recipe was originally published in 2017 but has been updated.

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  • Avatar
    Cory Varga
    June 15, 2020 9:03 am

    We are going to a dinner party next Saturday and we are making pasta together. Guess what recipe I will be using for the sauce. It looks so so good!

  • Avatar
    June 15, 2020 5:53 am

    Spaghetti with mussels is such a simple but delicious meal. I always love ready your post, so much great information .

  • Avatar
    June 15, 2020 4:13 am

    I always forget to make seafood with pasta. This looks absolutely incredible!

  • Avatar
    Marwin Brown
    June 15, 2020 2:28 am

    This looks tasty and flavorful! What a great combination of flavors!

  • Avatar
    Pam Greer
    June 13, 2020 1:01 am

    I’ve had mussels with a white wine sauce, but never with a red! Definitely going to be giving this a try!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:16 am

      You will love this just as much Pam, it is delicious!

  • Avatar
    June 12, 2020 5:47 pm

    Mussels with tomato sauce is just so good! I’ll try this recipe as soon as I get my hands on all the ingredient!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:17 am

      I agree with you Tatiana, I hope you get all the ingredients soon!

  • Avatar
    June 10, 2020 10:42 pm

    I have a difficult relationship with mussels, as I refused to eat them until I was 26, then I just tried and discovered I liked them, and only two years later a nasty food poisoning completely ruined mussels for me. Haven’t dared to eat them again ever since. But your pictures did awaken some craving, and I started thinking that pasta with mussels could be a soft start into trying to eat them again. Wouldn’t dare to eat the actual shellfish, but I could probably appreciate the flavour in the pasta sauce. It’s been too long since I’ve had shellfish pasta so right now I could actually say yes to mussel pasta!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:20 am

      I hate it when that happens, Eva! I hope you find a way to enjoy seafood again!

  • Avatar
    June 10, 2020 5:39 pm

    You are speaking my language with this mussels and pasta dish! I am big fan of mussels, but I don’t think I’ve ever had them in a tomato sauce.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:21 am

      Once you try it, Marta, it will be on your favourites list!

  • Avatar
    June 9, 2020 5:38 pm

    This is such a classy meal! The mussels really make it impressive, and that tomato sauce is so delicious and perfect for crusty bread.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:23 am

      Absolutely, Amanda! There are so many good homemade bread recipes too, so you can have the perfect meal!

  • Avatar
    Georgina @ CulinaryTravels
    June 9, 2020 4:11 pm

    I absolutely love pasta. I had spaghetti with muscles in Naples and it was scrumptious. I’ll try your recipe soon.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 15, 2020 2:24 am

      Hopefully, you can recreate a little bit of the holiday in your kitchen, Georgina!

  • Avatar
    June 7, 2020 9:49 pm

    Mussels are often used in our Kerala cuisine but I haven’t seen with Pasta. This looks delicious.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 8, 2020 6:32 am

      Thank you, Lathiya. I just looked at some photos of Kerala – absolutely beautiful!

  • Avatar
    June 5, 2020 8:02 am

    This spaghetti looks absolutely delicious. I love when you added the mussel. Anything with seafood is always the best.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 6, 2020 5:12 am

      Thank you for your comment, Saif. I agree, seafood pasta is delicious!

  • Avatar
    June 5, 2020 5:43 am

    My 9 year old son loves mussels. He loves pasta of course too. He would love this combo and have fun eating it.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 6, 2020 8:13 pm

      What great taste he has! This sounds like the perfect dinner time recipe for you to try!

  • Avatar
    Gillian Kent
    June 5, 2020 4:07 am

    This looks divine. My son loves mussels and loves to cook. I will suggest that we do this for one of our weekend get togthers.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      June 6, 2020 8:18 pm

      How lucky! It is delicious, hopefully you get to try it!

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