My Holiday Dish: Puglia


Pasta Con Le Cozze from Puglia


With the help of chef and author Jo Pratt, we’re taking you on a taste journey around Europe with our My Holiday Dish series. In the first of four recipes, we’ll be visiting Puglia, Italy, the muse for Jo Thomas’ latest novel The Olive Branch and a place of olive groves, sun-kissed cliffs and large areas of farmland. All this farming means that Puglia is a fantastic place to visit for local cuisine. Here is a simple Puglia inspired dish for you to create and bring a bit of local Italian culture to your holiday or home.

Pasta con le cozze (pasta with mussels)

Italy is famous for its food, perhaps most of all for its pasta. Ancient culinary traditions are at the root of Italian cuisine, and although important events throughout history have altered it, the food here has kept an emphasis on one theme – simplicity.

Jo Pratt highlights the elegance of Italian food by creating a wonderful fresh pasta dish that lets the ingredients speak for themselves.
Fresh mussels are cooked with wine, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, chilli and garlic, and served with pasta to create flavours that will transport you straight to the coast of Italy. See first-hand how Jo makes this simple yet flavoursome meal.

Ingredients (serves 4)

– 400g Italian pasta shapes
– 1kg Mussels in shells
– Italian extra virgin olive oil
– 3 Cloves garlic, peeled and crushed or chopped
– Pinch dried, crushed chilli
– Small glass dry white wine, about 125ml
– Approx. 400g cherry tomatoes, halved
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Large handful chopped flat leaf parsley


1. Wash the mussels in cold water, pulling off any straggly beards. Throw away any that remain open after a few seconds when lightly tapped.

2. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, usually for about 10 minutes though check the pack for guidance.

3. Heat a large lidded saucepan over a low-medium heat and add a really good glug of olive oil. Add the garlic and chilli. Gently fry for about 1 minute to soften the garlic and then add the halved cherry tomatoes, squeezing them by your hands into the pan, to release their juices.

4. Increase the heat to high and when the tomatoes start to soften, add the mussels and wine. Toss around in the pan then cover with a lid. Cook for a few minutes until the mussels have opened.

5. Drain the pasta, keeping back some of the cooking water. Toss the pasta into the mussels pan adding some of the cooking liquid if the sauce seems too thick. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Cover with the lid and leave on a low heat for about 1 minute.

6. Serve in bowls, discarding any mussels that remain closed, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Buon Appetito!

If this recipe has stirred up your appetite, try making this simple and easy recipe yourself at home or on your James Villa holiday and share it with us on Twitter using #MyHolidayDish and our tag @JamesVillasUK.

We’ll be bringing you more delicious recipes from some of our favourite destinations, along with a bit about Jo Pratt herself. Remember to check back on our blog for our next instalment of #MyHolidayDish!


Sally is a Digital Acquisition Manager at James Villa Holidays.

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