Pasta with aubergine and mussels

This dish couldn’t be more ‘Pugliese’ in my eyes. This recipe features the best local ingredients the region has to offer. Vegetables are super important in Puglian cooking and featured as the main ingredient in many recipes. You can’t walk or drive down any street without seeing a vegetable stall, a man selling them out the back of his car or displayed outside a local supermarket. Plus, the region enjoys two beautiful coastlines; the Adriatic and Ionic, which can only mean an abundance of fresh seafood.

I present to you this gorgeous dish of Pasta with aubergine, cime di rapa (southern Italian vegetable, leafy broccoli green tops) and mussels. I decided to use spaghetti for this recipe.

Pasta with aubergine and mussels
Pasta with aubergine and mussels

Cime di rapa is a typical southern Italian vegetable and can be hard to find in the UK. However, it can be bought at selected Italian delicatessens who may sell it frozen which is what I have used for this dish. I buy mine from Antonio’s deli, in Lewisham, SE London. However, you can use spinach if you can’t find it.

Ingredients for 2/3 people

  • 200g frozen cime di rapa
  • 500g Scottish mussels in garlic butter, pre-prepared (Sainsbury’s version)
  • Olive oil
  • 40g Basil, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 aubergine, peeled and diced
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 250g spaghetti

Directions

  1. First, cook the cime di rapa in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook as instructed on packet. When cooked, remove the veg with a slotted spoon into a bowl and set aside. We will use the water for the next step, so don’t throw it away.
  2. Next, place the pouch of mussels into the boiling water for 4 mins. Then empty all contents into a bowl and set aside. (If you’re not using the sainsbury’s version, read the instructions on the packet).
  3. In a large deep wide frying pan, drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and add half the basil and garlic. Fry for a few seconds.
  4. Add the diced aubergine, stir and ensure its coated in the olive oil. Cover the pan and cook until it has softened, approx 10 minutes.
  5. When the aubergine has softened, add the cooked cime di rapa, chopped tomatoes, onion, chilli flakes and season with salt. Give all the ingredients a good stir, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, make sure you have a pan of boiling salted water ready. Half way through the 20 minutes, start cooking the pasta (check the packet instructions).
  7. In the last 5 minutes of the cooking time, add the mussels and contents into the vegetables.
  8. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Give it a right good stir.
  9. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining basil and garlic.