Green Pasta with Mussels and Bacon

Mussels are one of the most richly flavoured, nutritious and yet inexpensive shellfish. Since they are so often served in their shells as moules marinière it is nice to make the most of them in a different way, as in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2.25 litres (4 pints) mussels
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 225 g/8 oz rindless smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 large handfuls fresh parsley
  • 50 g/2 oz butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 150 ml/¼ pint double cream
  • 350 g/12 oz fresh or dried green tagliatelle or tagliolini
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Wash and scrub the mussels but don’t bother about scraping off any barnacles. Pour about 1.25 cm/½ in of water into a large saucepan and put over the heat. Add the mussels, cover the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for about 2 minutes or a little more, shaking the pan until all the mussel shells are open. Then drain off the water and leave the mussels until they are cool enough to handle.

Peel the garlic and chop finely. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Remove the large stalks from the parsley, then put the parsley in a food processor and whizz to chop as finely as possible. Take the mussels out of their shells, discarding any that have not opened, and keep them on one side.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter with the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, then add the bacon and toss about for a few minutes until slightly crisp. Add the chopped garlic and stir for another minute. Now add the cream and finely chopped parsley and bring up to bubbling, stirring all the time. Season to taste with salt and plenty of black pepper. Lastly, stir in the mussels, remove from the heat and cover the pan.

When the water in the large saucepan is boiling, stir in the pasta and cook for 3-10 minutes (depending on whether the pasta is fresh or dried), until just tender but still with a bite to it. Drain and put into a large heated serving dish. Pour the mussel and bacon mixture over the noodles, stirring it in only slightly, and serve immediately. Put a bowl of grated Parmesan on the table for people to sprinkle on to their individual helpings.

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