We’re right in the middle of mussel season (at least us poor sods not living by the sea) and this is a lovely little recipe if you can only get a hold of a smaller portion of blue mussels. Usually when I buy mussels I try to get a big batch, prepare them with a nice tomato sauce, serve them with some bread…. voilá. But last week I only got around 500g and that’s not enough to serve by itlself. So, I made some pasta to go with it. A really great combination and soooo quick to make.
When I was a kid it was a lot harder to get fresh mussels here in Germany (not counting the coastal areas), but by now even the discount supermarkets sell them prepacked and they are of no lesser quality than the stuff you can get at the wholesaler or the fishmonger. So spontaneous mussel dinners are a thing now in my house and I LOVE it.
If you never bought mussels before, there’s really only a few things you need to adhere to:
- Always pay attention to the date the mussels were packed and when they expire. Obviously the date they were packed should only be around 1-3 days ago.
- When you open the package of mussels, smell them. And I mean: Get right in there and smell them properly. The only thing you should smell is the sea. If you smell anything fishy or foul, even just a slight bit… do NOT eat them.
- Depending on where the mussels are from you might need to wash and scrub them before cooking. Usually mussels from the Netherlands are pretty clean and the Spanish ones need a bit of work. Just put them in the sink and under a running tap remove algae and other crusty bits with a dull knife. Wash them down thoroughly or else you might end up with some sand in your meal and as much as I love crunchy food, sand is not one of it.
- Throw out mussels that have a broken shell.
- And finally when you cook them they will open up, meaning they were alive when you threw them in the pot. If a mussel doesn’t open up in the steam it was likely dead before, so don’t eat it. Just throw it out.
- 500g blue mussels
- 1 can puréed tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 glas of dry white wine
- 250g tagliatelle
- 1/4 cup of cream
- Salt to taste
- In a pot heat the tomatoe sauce together with the minced garlic, one tablespoon of olive oil, the chili, the bay leaves and some salt to taste. This is just to reduce the sauce a bit and mix the flavours.
- Check, wash and clean the mussels. Set aside. Heat a big pot of water for the pasta.
- When the pasta goes into the cooking water, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and when hot, add the mussels. Put a lid on and wait 4-5 minutes.
- Steam will form and the mussels will start to open and release liquid. It's important to get rid of most of it, otherwise your sauce will be too runny. So after 5 minutes drain the liquid. Repeat after a couple minutes.
- Add the wine to the mussels. Leave 1/3 of the tomato sauce in the pot and add the other 2/3 to the mussels. Stir well until the mussels are covered.
- Add the parsley and stir again. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
- Add the cream to the remaining tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper.
- Drain the pasta and add to the tomato sauce. Stir until the tagliatelle are covered in sauce.
- Serve everything together with some fresh baguette and a nice dry white wine. Enjoy!