Fresh Mussel Sauce with Linguini

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

Fresh mussels are quick and easy to cook and practically make their own sauce. Those that we buy in the market today are generally farm-raised and, as a result, are much cleaner and don’t need to be “purged” of grit and sand before cooking. Substitute clams if you like them better. The traditional recipe calls for a long pasta but you can use anything you want. You can also remove the mussels from the shell before combining with the pasta. I don’t serve this with cheese, but you can if you want.


  1. 6 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  2. 1 cup finely chopped onions
  3. 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  4. 2 cups crisp, light-bodied white wine
  5. cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  6. 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  7. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (fold in waxed paper or a clean envelope and smack with the bottom of a skillet if you don’t have a mortar and pestle)
  8. Big pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  9. 4 pounds mussels in the shell, well washed and “beards” removed
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. 1 pound dried linguini


Heat the butter in a pot large enough to hold the mussels. Add the onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until softened but not brown, 2 minutes or so. Add the wine, parsley, zest, fennel, red pepper, if desired, mussels, and a grinding or two of black pepper. Cover tightly and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, still covered, until the mussels open. Discard any that don’t open.

While the mussels are cooking, cook the linguini in lightly salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, place in warm bowls, and ladle the mussels and their cooking liquid over the pasta. Serve immediately.