To me, mussels are the most underrated seafood that exist. They’re cheap, relatively easy to prepare, and really pack a lot of flavor without being overpowering. We ate them often growing up, but this is my favorite way to enjoy them – the juices that come from heating them mix with oil and a pat of butter to create a creamy sauce. Fresh parsley mixed in at the very end gives the dish a fresh taste that can’t be beat.
What I love about this dish is that the flavor is so elevated that it seems as though its a difficult or time consuming dish – but in reality, it can be made in under 1/2 hour. It’s easy enough to make on a weeknight, but worthy of being an indulgent weekend meal. Enjoy it with a crisp, chilled white wine.
Spaghetti con le Cozze
- 2 lbs fresh mussels
- 4-6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 2 heaping tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt, to taste
- Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
- As soon as you buy the mussels, store them in a large bowl, cover with water and mix in a large pinch of salt. Cover tightly with saran wrap and store in the fridge for use the same day or the next.
- Prepare the mussels by scraping the outside of the shell with the back of a knife, or by scrubbing them gently with a vegetable scrubber or clean sponge. Remove any debris from the outside. If your mussels have not been debearded, do so by tugging at the hairy particles coming from the shell and yanking them towards the hinge of the shell. Use a knife to help scrape it away, if necessary. Discard any mussels that are open.
- While you prepare the mussels, set a large pasta pot full of water on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil.
- Place the cleaned mussels in a large, heavy bottomed pot, and set over medium-high heat with the cover on. Cook until the shells have opened and the mussel meat is opaque – about 5-7 minutes. Remove the top and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- When the mussels have cooled, remove the meat from the shells by loosening them with the tip of a knife. Discard the shells, leaving the liquid in the pot.
- Set a sieve over a large bowl and line the sieve with a paper towel. Drain the liquid from the mussels through the sieve and wring the paper towel out to extract the liquid – this process with eliminate any sediment from the mussels. Discard the paper towel.
- At this point, the water should be boiling. Salt the water with a wooden spoonful of salt, and add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente – about 6 minutes.
- Thinly slice the garlic cloves. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, about 2 minutes. When the oil is hot, add red pepper flakes to taste, and the sliced garlic. Sautee until fragrant.
- Add in the mussels and stir, then the strained juice from the mussels. When the sauce is simmering, add a tablespoon of butter and stir until its melted.
- Add the spaghetti and toss it in the sauce. After coating the spaghetti in the sauce, add 1 cup of the pasta water, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Add chopped parsley, toss, and serve.
You can also prepare the sauce in advance and store until you are ready to prepare the dish!