Scialatielli with Mussels, Clams & Bronte Pistachios

Mussels, clams, fish, lemons.... I still cannot get over my Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) fever.   And what is the best medicine to an imaginary sickness like this?  Reliving the moment through food. Not being able to capture the genuine tastes of the coast would eventually shake away these cobwebs. But persistence pays off because this pasta dish is a very good substitute to the true flavors of Amalfi Coast. Original recipe adapted from Chef Cecio

1 - 2. Scenes from a Nativity depiction along Strada Statale 163    3. Ceramic tiles on the wall of Tratttoria da Maria in Amalfi   4. A small villa along the state road.   5. A villa facing Piazza Tasso of Sorrento   6.  State road panorama   6.  Piazza Tasso of Sorrento   7. Pasta from Gragnano, where the best pasta come from   8. State road panorama   9. Lemon soaps & candles for sale in Sorrento   10.  Endless rows lemon grove terraces in the whole coast of Amalfi   11.  Limoncello laboratory display in Sorrento
A 40 km. state road, Strada Statale 163, is the only land route that runs along the coastline from the town of Maiori in the east to Positano in the west. Thirteen diverse and beautiful towns are located along the whole stretch of coast.  The Costiera Amalfitana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

If you have courage made of steel, take the bus and enjoy the narrow 40 km. coastline road high up on the cliffs.  I am not the brave type so I settled for my front passenger seat stepping on my imaginary break every sharp turn we took. Thank God my husband has exemplary driving skills!  Don't tell him I said that.

The first town I saw in the area was Sorrento. It is a big and lively city, with a population of more than 16,000. However, it still kept a coastal town character. The main square, Piazza Tasso with a big Christmas tree right in the middle, was very busy with activities. 

In the post prior to this, the scaloppine al limone (veal scallops with lemon), I introduced the towns of Scala, the oldest town in the area that the ancient Romans settled in. Then there is Ravello right across it that traces its history back from the 5th century. It is famous for its Terrace of Infinity in the 11th century Villa Cimbrone.

The collage above is a collection of images of the town Atrani, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Its proximity to the more important and bigger town, Amalfi, made it the official residence of the noble families of the Amalfi during the Maritime Republics from the 10th to the 11th centuries. This is where the Doges were crowned and buried. 

Amalfi.  The center of the tourist hub then and until now.  You can recognize it from its beautiful cathedral perched on top of a staircase in the main square.  It had been the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi in the 10th and 11th centuries. 

1.  The kids at the fountain of the main square in Minori   2.  Asymmetrical terraces in Positano   3. Cetara   4. A church along the narrow road of Positano   5 - 6. Positano   7.  Square in Minori   8. Ceramic bench and plates in Minori   9. Minori   10.  The kids on the steps of Minori's main church

Above are images of Positano, Minori and Cetara, all coastal towns of the Amalfi Coast.  Positano is a spectacularly splendid town with winding roads and terraces with breathtaking views in all angles.   It had been an important port for the Duchy of Amalfi.  A very popular tourist destination, it had been featured in some films and magazines.

Cetara is one of the least known towns along the coast, being a small local fishing village.  Historically, it had been a settlement for a group of armed Saracens in the year 880.  It produces one of the best bottled anchovies and anchovy sauce or colatura di alici in the country. 

1 - 2. Different Neapolitan cakes   3. Baba' al limoncello & bacio di limone of San de Riso, lemon coated chocolates of Sorrento     3 - 4. Foglievolli, specialty of Sorrento.  They are sultanas cooked in wine and mixed with candied oranges are wrapped with lemon leaves. They are then cooked in the oven at a low temperature to dry. The recipe goes back to the ancient Roman times.

Minori is a quiet, little town going towards the east.  It has a small square right next to the road with its beautiful church dominating it.   Right along the main road, you can also have a very good selection of local cakes from the area at Sal de Riso.  Their lemon tiramisu' and baba' with limoncello were unforgettable.


Scialatielli with Mussels, Clams & Bronte Pistachios

Serves 4
  • 350 - 400 g. scialatielli (or spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine or anything similar that you have)
  • 1 kilo mussels
  • 1 kilo clams
  • 500 g. cherry, datterini or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red chili, chopped & seeds taken out
  • ground pistachios for sprinkling (can be optional)
  • 1 cup or 250 ml. white wine
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp. capers (rinsed, soaked in water, drained & lightly squeezed to send water away)
  1. Boil some water in a pot for the pasta.  When it boils, add salt & cook the pasta according to the number of minutes suggested in the packaging, minus 2 minutes to continue cooking with the sauce.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Sautè one garlic & chili.  When the garlic changes color,  add the mussels & clams.  When they are all open, pour the wine.  Put up the flame.  Put down the flame when the alcohol evaporates. 
  3. In another saucepan, a smaller one, sautè the other crushed garlic with extra virgin olive oil.  When it changes color, add the tomatoes.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Add the capers. 
  4. Put the tomatoes in the saucepan of the mussels & clams.  Mix well.  Put down the flame.  Don't put salt until you have tried the sauce.  The shellfish are already naturally salty.   I never put salt whenever I am cooking shellfish.  Let it cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes more.  Discard garlic.
  5. Add the cooked pasta.  Mix well.  Cook for a couple of minutes.  Sprinkle chopped parsley.
  6. On the plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil & sprinkle some finely chopped pistachios.