Spaghetti with mussels is a quick and easy pasta dish that combines the rich, delicate taste of fresh-steamed mussels with olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs and wine. By finishing the pasta directly in the mussel broth, each succulent bite is saturated with flavor. Add hot pepper flakes for an added punch. Make sure and serve plenty of crusty, artisan bread with this pasta dish to mop up every drop of delicious broth! Mmmmm! The flavor and aroma will evoke images of long, luxurious, nostalgic summer dinners on the coast.
The video below walks you through the easy-to-follow steps for making spaghetti with mussels. There are two things I really love about this video recipe:
First, they have you skim a bit of the starchy foam off the top of the pasta water and add it to the sauce. The starch from the pasta works as a thickener and finishes the sauce beautifully.
The second thing I love is that they finish cooking the pasta directly in the mussel broth. As a result, the pasta absorbs all the wonderful flavor of the mussels, garlic, herbs and wine. If you were to simply add the sauce to cooked pasta, it would run off and pool in the bottom of your bowl. Still delicious but a bit disappointing. Their technique of cooking the pasta in the mussel sauce captures all that deliciousness inside the pasta itself. Any remnants can be mopped up with the bread.
If mussels are unfamiliar to you, the brief video below featuring seafood Chef Becky Selengut, will help you identify a fresh, live mussel (NEVER cook a dead mussel!). She also shows you how to debeard the mussels quickly and effectively, clean them and store them safely. Very straight forward techniques but important to do correctly.
TIP:Be sure and buy the freshest mussels possible and use them within 24 hours for best flavor.
TIP: Never put mussels in fresh water or cover in ice as this will kill them.
Yield: Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a starter
This is a quick and easy seafood pasta dish that incorporates the delicate flavor of fresh-steamed mussels with garlic, fresh herbs and white wine. Use the freshest mussels you can find and use them within 24 hours. Visit: http://www.myfavoritepastarecipes.com/pasta-recipes/recipe-spaghetti-mussels/
to watch the videos for cleaning mussels and preparing this dish.
1 lb. of pasta (spaghetti, linguini or fettuccini work well)
2-3 dozen fresh mussels, live, cleaned and *debearded (see video)
2 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Fresh thyme, 2-3 whole stems
A large handful of FRESH Italian parsley, wash and dried, rough chopped
A large handful of FRESH basil leaves, washed and dried, whole
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup dry white wine
salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
Put a large pot of water on to boil (use 3 quarts of water per pound of pasta - slightly less than usual to allow the starch to foam up on the surface.)
While the water is heating, check over the mussels and toss any dead ones. (if they don't close tight on their own, toss 'em) Scrub the live ones under cold running water to remove any grit and sand. Holding the mussel firmly with the hinge end down, remove the beard with a quick yank. Use a towel for better grip. (see the video for a good demonstration). If not using the mussels immediately, put them in a bowl, cover with a damp towel to keep them from drying out, and refrigerate. DO NOT add water or cover with ice as this will kill them.
Add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a large saucepan (cold). Add the minced garlic and saute gently on medium low until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the mussels, the chopped parsley and the thyme. Turn the heat to medium high. Cover with a lid and cook about a minute. Remove the lid, add the wine and season lightly with salt and pepper. Shake the pan to combine the ingredients and put the lid back on securely. Steam everything together until all the mussels are open. Keep an eye on the pan and don't overcook them! They will release a wonderful, fragrant broth as they cook.
Once the mussels are all open, use a slotted spoon to remove them to a bowl and set aside. Keep the broth on low heat. Remove the thyme, if using.
When the pasta water is at a rolling boil, add a small handful of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir gently to keep it from sticking. Cook the pasta partway...5-6 minutes only!
As the pasta cooks, a white foam will start to collect at the surface. Carefully skim this off and add it to the broth. Turn the broth to high and simmer.
Remove the pasta pot from the heat. Using tongs, remove the pasta from the water and add it to the simmering sauce. No need to drain it particularly well as the starchy water will help create the sauce. Cook the pasta in the mussel sauce for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally and tasting it for doneness as it cooks. The pasta will absorb a fair amount of the broth as it continues to cook. Add the red pepper flakes and fresh basil in the last few minutes. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Be careful with the salt as the broth will be fairly salty from the mussels.
When the pasta is "al dente", cooked but firm to the bite, transfer the contents to a large serving bowl that has been warmed in the oven (5 minutes at 200 degrees). Add the cooked mussels in the shells and toss together. Serve immediately with lots of crusty, artisan bread to mop up all the delicious sauce!
Check over, clean and debeard the mussels ahead to save time. This dish goes together quite quickly and should be served immediately. I do not recommend reheating this dish but we rarely have any leftovers anyway!