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Gnocchi with Mussels and Pecorino

The author of The Eternal City: Recipes and Stories from Rome shares a taboo-breaking recipe from Italy's capital.

Many food purists say seafood and cheese don’t mix. In my family, you never saw cheese on the table if pasta with fish was being served. And in Italy, if you were to ask for it at a restaurant after having ordered spaghetti alle vongole or risotto alla crema di scampi, you’d just about get arrested. Yet, the memo seems to have been missed with this dish in Rome. Gnocchi with mussels and pecorino is on the menu at many Roman trattorie, and it’s some sort of a divine match.

My friend Angelo’s gnocchi — his paternal Nonna Stella’s recipe — is just perfect. He’d come home from school at lunchtime and she would ask what he’d like to eat. When he said gnocchi, she would roll up her sleeves and make them from scratch. Gnocchi is a delicious dish any day of the week, but why not do as the Romans do and make Thursdays "gnocchi day" at your house too!

Gnocchi with Mussels and Pecorino

Gnocchi with Mussels and Pecorino

Recipe by Angelo Preziosi
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Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 lbs 2 mussels

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 olive oil

  • 2 2 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 small 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 Pecorino Romano, grated

  • 1 lb 1 2 oz floury/boiling potatoes

  • 1 1 egg, beaten

  • 1-2/3 cups 1-2/3 plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting

  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg

  • 3 tablespoons 3 grated Parmigiano Reggiano


  • To make the gnocchi, rinse the whole, unpeeled potatoes and place them in a large saucepan of cold water with a pinch of salt.
  • Bring to the boil and cook at a rapid boil for about 30 minutes, or until just tender.
  • Drain and leave to cool slightly, then remove the skins.
  • Mash the potatoes and mix together in a bowl with the beaten egg, flour, nutmeg and Parmigiano.
  • On a bench, knead with your hands to obtain a smooth dough. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little more flour; if it is too dry add a splash of water.
  • Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each into a long sausage shape, about 3/4 inch thick.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the logs into pieces about 3/4 inch long, to make little square pillows.
  • Place the gnocchi on a tray dusted with flour and sprinkle with a little more flour.
  • Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
  • Rinse the mussels and remove the hairy beards; discard any that are broken or open.
  • In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and gently fry the garlic until soft.
  • Add the mussels and cover.
  • Cook over high heat for 4–5 minutes, or until they begin to open.
  • When all the mussels have opened, turn off the heat, remove the mussels from the pan and strain the remaining juices through a fine sieve, adding the strained juices back to the pan.
  • Remove the shells from all but 24 mussels.
  • Put all the mussels back into the sauce and reheat over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
  • Slowly add all the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for about 1–2 minutes, until they rise back up to the surface.
  • Scoop out the gnocchi using a slotted spoon and add to the mussels.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.
  • Serve each dish topped with six mussels still in their shells, and a generous sprinkling of Pecorino.

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