Spaghetti with Mussels

Spaghetti alle Cozze

I use a similar technique here that I use when making sauces with clams, which is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce with the juices the mussels release when they open allowing the pasta to soak up all their flavor.

Total Time from Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and ½-inch diced
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 40 fresh, live mussels
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

Method

  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, cover, and place over high heat.
  2. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a deep skillet large enough to accommodate all the mussels and cooked pasta later, and place over medium high heat. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and the parsley. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the white wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Add the tomatoes and season with salt. Cook stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until very al dente.
  4. Add the mussels to the pan with the sauce, stir well, and cover. Cook until all the mussels have opened. Don’t be too quick to discard mussels that do not open. The more stubborn ones are usually the freshest. Add the basil and remove from the heat.
  5. When the spaghetti are cooked about a minute less than al dente, return the pan with the mussels to a medium heat. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan letting the spaghetti finish cooking in the pan. When done, there should be just a little amount of liquid left. You can control how much liquid is left by either covering the pan, or leaving it uncovered as the pasta finishes cooking.
  6. Toss in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and serve at once with the mussels in the shell.

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