Did you hear about the fisherman who went breakdancing at the seafood disco?
He ended up pulling a mussel!
You’re welcome for that knee slapper of a dad joke. All kidding aside, these little shellfish deserve lots of love. So, consider this my mussel appreciation post.
Mussels are inexpensive, elegant, delicious, and easy to cook. If you have a bag of mussels, some butter, a little garlic, shallots, and a bottle of wine, dinner is on the table in 15 minutes. But why stop there?
There are infinite ways to cook mussels. You serve them steamed, sauced up, added to a seafood stew or paella, or tossed in pasta. One of my favorites is mussels in rich, perfectly seasoned tomato sauce with pasta *chefs kiss*.
Here is what you need to know about this mussel pasta recipe:
- Most mussels in the store arrive ready to cook. All they require is a bit of rinsing and debearding. Click here for a quick tutorial on cleaning and preparing mussels.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. My rule of thumb is to check for doneness a minute or two before the suggested cooking time on the package. You want your noodles to be al dente or still firm. You have lots of pasta options here. I like to use linguine in this recipe, but any noodle will work. Fettuccine, tagliatelle or spaghettini are other options.
- If you don’t have white wine on hand or prefer not to cook with wine, you can substitute equal amounts of broth or water.
Mussels with Pasta in Tomato Sauce
- 1 shallot, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, 1 crushed + 3 minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (like a Sauvignon Blanc)
- 2 lbs mussels, rinsed, scrubbed and beards removed
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 28-oz can whole or diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 lb linguine or other pasta
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- toasted french bread (for serving)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. While the water comes to a boil, heat a large pan over medium-high. Add the shallot, crushed garlic, and white wine, and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover, and cook for 2-4 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally while they cook. Once the mussels open use tongs to transfer them to the bowl. Strain the cooking liquid, reserving about 1/2 cup.
- Once the mussels are cool enough to touch, remove half from the shells. If the mussels are sandy or gritty, give them a light rinse. Cover and set them aside while you make the tomato sauce.
- In a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 30-60 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and thyme, and increase the heat to medium-high. Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes until it starts to thicken. If you are using whole tomatoes, break them apart using the back of your spoon as they cook. Stir in 1/2 cup of the reserved mussel broth. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Reduce the heat to very low and continue to simmer while you cook the pasta.
- While the sauce simmer, salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to the pasta instructions, and drain when done. Add the pasta and the mussels (shelled and unshelled) to the tomato sauce. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix with tongs to combine. Serve immediately with toasted french bread. Enjoy!