Mussels are one of my many favorites—and I don’t mean body muscles! When many think of mussels, they think only of appetizers, but this shellfish has many uses: in red sauce, white sauce, seafood pizzas, etc. Mussels are very popular in all of the coastal regions of Italy and are delicious served with pasta. This simple dish is best when the freshest mussels available are used. And, as I’ve said before, if you can’t make this dish, get out of the kitchen!
- 2 lb. fresh mussels, in their shells
- 5 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. white wine
- 1 lb. spaghetti
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Scrub the mussels well under cold running water, cutting off the “beard” of each mussel with a small sharp knife. For the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the mussels and a cupful of water in another large saucepan over moderate heat. As soon as the mussels open, lift them out one by one. When all of the mussels have opened (discard any that do not), strain the liquid in the saucepan through a layer of paper towels and reserve until needed. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and parsley, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mussels, their strained juices and the wine. Cook over moderate heat. Meanwhile, add salt to the boiling water, and drop in the pasta. Add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper to the sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as necessary. Drain the pasta when it is al dente. Add the pasta to the frying pan with the sauce, and stir well over moderate heat for 1 to 2 minutes more. Serve immediately. Serves 4.