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Spaghetti with mussels

by Rachel Phipps
Spaghetti with mussels

Spaghetti with mussels

PT15M

 
 

Why not try?

Spaghetti alle cozze in bianco, or spaghetti with mussels without tomatoes, is probably the easiest and cheapest way to eat shellfish with pasta. You'll probably already have most of the ingredients you'll need, so all you have to do is pick up some fresh mussels on the way home. It is a dish typical of the Campania region around Naples, but in truth some version of this is eaten all the way up and down the Italian coast.

I find spaghetti works particularly well with shellfish because unlike most other pastas, the long, thin, silky strands find their way into the shells making a satisfying and still very pretty dish. While it is great for a weeknight pasta dish for just you, it is easily multiplied to feed a crowd, either for something a bit different by way of a family meal, or for an alfresco dinner party served with a cold bottle or two of white wine and a richer dessert like an Italian custard (zabaione) or a chocolate mousse.

While mussels are the easiest to get hold of because you can find them at most fishmongers in season, and on most supermarket fish counters all year around, any other clam-like shellfish would work perfectly here. If you’re planning on serving this with white or rose wine you can add a splash of it when you’re reducing the liquor from the mussels, and to save getting garlic-scented fingers while you’re chopping you can use a simple garlic oil to finish the pasta, skipping the first step.

1
Cook the pasta in a pan of salted water until al-dente. This should take about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the mussels open in a large lidded saucepan. Once the shells have opened, set aside, reserving the mussel cooking juices
2
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the garlic and chilli flakes until the garlic is tender and just starting to brown. Add the reserved mussel liquid, then simmer until you have a thin sauce
3
Drain the spaghetti and add it to the pan, along with the mussels. Stir until everything is combined, then stir in the parsley, lemon juice and a generous seasoning of sea salt. Serve straight away in a warm bowl
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