Penne Monte e Mare

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

Once upon a time there was a suggestion that this book be called The Mountains and The Sea, because topographically the food of the Mediterranean is, in the main, the produce of highlands or the coastal plain and the sea. However, it was felt that this was perhaps a little Hemingwayesque and abstruse, and the idea was discarded. This really is a dish which deserves the title, because it combines the spiced meat of upland pigs with mussels and pasta. The sausages should be those Italian ones that are spiked with chilli or pepper and paprika and may additionally be underpinned with a little fennel. Search out an Italian shop used by Italians, where you will almost certainly find them.


  • 450 g/1 lb mussels
  • 2 red sweet peppers
  • 8 spicy Italian sausages, weighing about 900 g/2 lb in total
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 glass (150 ml/¼ pt) of dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 450 g /1 lb tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 450 g/1 lb penne rigate
  • salt and pepper
  • large handful of flat-leaf parsley, to garnish



Scrub and beard the mussels, discarding any open ones that don’t close when they are tapped.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas7.

Grill the peppers over a flame until blistered and blackened. Cover for 10 minutes, then peel, deseed and cut into 2.5 cm/1 in squares.

Part-cook the sausages on a rack in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and, when cool enough to handle, cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Peel and slice the onion. Peel, smash and chop the garlic. Destalk the parsley for garnish and chop the leaves.

Put the wine into a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil and cook the mussels with the lid on, shaking from time to time, until they are open. Pass through a sieve and reserve both the liquid and the mussels separately.

Put a large pan of salted water to heat.


In a large heavy pan, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil.

Add the chopped tomatoes with their liquid and the reserved mussel liquor. Boil rapidly to reduce by about two-thirds, stirring vigorously.

Stir in the chopped sausages and peppers. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

After 5 minutes put the pasta to cook in the pan of rapidly boiling water. Boil for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the cooked pasta.

Add the mussels to the tomato and sausage sauce for 2 minutes. Stir in the drained pasta and toss.


Serve immediately, scattered with parsley.

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