Italian Recipe for Tiella Barese, or Puglian Mussels, Rice, and Potatoes

Port of Bari visited during Italy tourTGIF, which at The International Kitchen frequently means planning what’s for dinner! This weekend, why not try this delicious Italian recipe for “Tiella Barese,” a traditional dish of baked mussels, rice, and potatoes hailing from Bari, the capital of the Puglia (Apulia) region. Tiella comes from the dialect word tieèd, indicating the pan in which it is made (in this way it is similar to another famed rice dish, Spanish paella).

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A couple notes on preparation: the best way to prepare the dish is to open the mussels raw, reserving the liquid, and place them in half their shell in the dish. But it’s a lot easier to steam them open, so that’s the version we’ve included below. Also, some recipes omit the onion and garlic, or include only the one or the other, and some also add zucchini. So feel free to experiment and let us know how it goes!

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Tiella Barese dish on Puglia cooking vacationTiella Barese

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Cook method: Bake

Learn more about Puglia culinary traditions.

Cook with mussels on culinary tourIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mussels, washed and debearded
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 200 gr whole tomatoes, preferably fresh, blanched, peeled and seeded, but canned is fine
  • Arborio rice (250-300 g)
  • Pecorino cheese (or romano or parmigiano)
  • Handful of Italian parsley
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Try another wonderful seafood recipe for Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams.


1. Steam the mussels in a pan with a tight-fitting lid just until they open. Remove half the shell of each mussel. Keep the juices, but discard any mussels that did not open.

2. Prepare the vegetables: peel and thinly slice the potatoes and onion, and mince the garlic with the parsley. Finely chop the tomatoes.

3. Drizzle olive oil in a casserole or large baking dish. Put a layer of onion, then sprinkle with tomato and the garlic/parsley mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add a layer of potatoes and sprinkle with the cheese (not too much).

Beautiful beach on a summer culinary vacation in Italy.4. Place the mussels in their half shell in one or two layers, sprinkling each layer first with rice, then with tomato, garlic, parsley, salt (very sparingly), and pepper. Add the mussel juices (strained if necessary, and diluted with a little water if too salty).

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5. Top with another layer of overlapping potatoes so that the mussels are completely covered. Add enough water under the potatoes, if necessary, to come up to—but NOT over—the level of the potatoes.

6. Spread a generous coating of pecorino over the top, drizzle with olive oil, and cover tightly with aluminum foil (or, with aluminum foil and the lid to the casserole, to get a tight seal).

7. Bake at 375-400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes to brown the cheese and tomatoes.

View of a fishing boat in Puglia8. Let rest at least 10 minutes before serving, but you can also serve it room temperature. Serves 4.

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Interested in learning more about Italian cuisine, or more specifically the cuisine of Puglia? Consider an Italian cooking vacation, or contact us to talk about the perfect culinary vacation for you.

Try more great recipes, including:

By Peg Kern

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