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Vegetables, Mussels, Potatoes and Rice Casserole (Casserole Barese)

Casserole Barese

Cuisine: Italian
Region: Puglia (South)

The Casserole Barese is an interesting casserole recipe from Puglia, Italy. It could well be a distant cousin to the Spanish Paella. “Barese” means “from Bari”.

Serves 4 – 6
Cooking time: 70-80 min
You need: an oven casserole pan and a skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg (@2 Lbs) (or more) of fresh mussels
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2/3 of a cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 glass (cup) of extra virgin olive oil
  • approx. 1/2 cup of grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (like 0.5 cm or 1/8 inch)
  • 1 + 1/2 cup rice, washed
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

  1. Put the mussels in a skillet and cover them with 1/4 cold water.
  2. Put the lid on, then bring it to a boil for a couple of minutes.
  3. Turn off the fire and remove the skillet from the burner. Remove the lid and let the mussels cool off.
  4. When cool enough, remove one shell from each mussel (the one that doesn’t contain the flesh). Keep the mussel juice, you’re going to need it later.
  5. Start preheating the oven at 190C/375F.
  6. Now, the casserole pan: arrange a layer composed of 1/3 of the tomatoes, celery, parsley and garlic.
  7. Drizzle 1/3 of the olive oil on the layer.
  8. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese.
  9. On top of the cheese, layer 1/3 of the potatoes.
  10. On top of the potatoes layer 1/3 of the mussels, face up.
  11. On top of the mussels layer all of the rice.
  12. Time for layer #2: arrange a layer composed of 1/3 of the tomatoes, celery, parsley and garlic.
  13. Add salt and pepper.
  14. Drizzle 1/3 of the olive oil on the 2nd layer.
  15. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese.
  16. Layer the remaining potatoes.
  17. Layer the remaining vegetables.
  18. Drizzle the remaining olive oil.
  19. Now, pour evenly in the water and the mussel juice (remember that? in the skillet?).
  20. Sprinkle the bread crumbs.
  21. Add salt and pepper
  22. Add the remaining cheese.
  23. Add the water.
  24. Cook in 190C/375F for approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Notes on Vegetables, Mussels, Potatoes and Rice Casserole (Casserole Barese)

  • Rice has to be somewhat plump. Parboiled rice is NOT ideal.
  • Make sure the mussels don’t have sand in them. You may want to wash them first and/or use a cheesecloth to sieve the mussel juice before you pour it in the casserole.
  • You can salt and pepper any layer you want, as you see fit.
  • The texture of the final result should be neither watery, nor dry.
  • If you need to add water during cooking, use only HOT water.