Mussels with Spicy Pasta Sauce

Mussels with Spicy Pasta Sauce

Seafood. Tomato Sauce. Pasta. Can’t get any better than that. My favorite! The taste of the sea in a pasta sauce. And those meaty, sweet morsels of mussels.

AND so easy!

This is my family’s seafood sauce that we use for mussels, clams, shrimp, lobster, or blue-claw crab.

Fresh mussels? Usually not hard to find in stores. Costco has some wonderful ones from Prince Edward Island.

Here’s how I clean them.

Rinse each one under cool water to remove any grit. And debearding…do you know about that? Mussels grow clinging together on seaweed. Sometimes some of the seaweed stays attached. You can find it at the edge of the mussel. Simply grab it in your fingers, and pull it off. Not every mussel has this– and it’s really not hard to do at all.

And, typically, for Italian seafood pasta dishes, grated cheese is eschewed! The better topping is crunchy toasted breadcrumbs.

See the recipes below for some tasty (and as spicy as you like) seafood sauce. Enjoy that taste of the ocean!

Pasta and Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1.5 teaspoons dried oregano

3 teaspoons, minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 dozen (or more) fresh mussels, rinsed clean & debearded

1/2 lb. linguine or spaghetti

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan until hot. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, and pepper flakes. Saute until garlic softens and starts to color, about 1-2 minutes. Add the wine. Cook until reduced by half. Add the tomatoes. stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring a pasta of water to a boil. Season liberally with salt. Add pasta, stir to keep strands apart until the water comes back to a boil. When you add pasta to water, add mussels and shrimp to sauce. Cover and cook on medium heat. The steam will open the mussels.

When pasta is done, drain and add to a serving bowl. When mussels have all opened (discard mussels that won’t open), add mussels and sauce to pasta. Stir to combine. Serve with toasted breadcrumbs for sprinkling.

Toasted breadcrumbs

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

4-5 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste 

Add crumbs and olive oil to a small frying pan. Stir to combine. Heat until crumbs are toasted. Season with salt.

What to do with Zucchini

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pasta w grated zucchini

I saw a longtime friend of mine on a recent visit to NYC. Gerald Busby is a cherished friend and mentor…AND a great composer. (I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with him on some music projects.)

 

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Gerald and me at his apartment in the Chelsea Hotel…my painting of the Chelsea behind us!

But Gerald is also a very good cook…so our chatting led to food…and he offhandedly described something he cooked up recently. It sounded so yummy I made it as soon as I got home. I LOVE this recipe: Pasta w Grated Zucchini

Simple. Smart. Delicious.

Here’s how it goes: Put your pasta pot of water on the heat to get it boiling. Then start your zucchini sauce. Chop a medium onion into dice. Sauté in a little butter (and I added a little olive oil, too)…

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onions sautéing 

Trim the ends of two medium zucchini. Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater.

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grate zucchini

When the onion has softened. Add the grated zucchini to the pan.

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saute zucchini with onion

Try to coincide with also adding your pasta to the pot of boiling water (salt water first) — about 12 ounces, or even up to a pound of pasta.

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I got this pasta while in NYC at Eataly. It’s the Barilla brand that’s made in Italy and it’s rare to see “garganelli” as an egg pasta. So good! I think a cut pasta works best with this recipe.

Sauté zucchini till it starts to simmer, then add a splash of dry white wine. Season with salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.

Add about a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Cook till simmering.

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add cream to the zucchini, cook until cream reduces some

Reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add it to the pan of zucchini sauce. Stir to coat, and cook until the pasta and sauce are heated together, and the pasta is well coated. Add a little pasta water, or some more butter or olive oil if it needs moistening.

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Transfer to a serving platter. Scatter a little grated cheese. And bring more cheese to the table for individual servings.

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Simple. Smart. Delicious.

Pasta with Grated Zucchini

2 tablespoons butter

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium zucchini, trimmed & grated

1/4 cup dry white wine

12 ounces  – 1 lb. cut pasta (i.e. penne, ziti, garganelli)

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt to taste

grated cheese to taste

Place a pasta pot of water on the heat. Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan with about 2-inch sides (to hold pasta later). Sauté onion until soft. Then add grated zucchini.

Add pasta to boiling water (salt water first). When zucchini is simmering, add wine. When zucchini has softened (about 3-4 minutes), add cream. Let simmer till cream reduces a bit. Season with salt.

Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and add to zucchini sauce. Heat and coat pasta and let cook for about 2 minutes. Add a bit of pasta water or olive oil (or even a bit of cream or butter) if too dry.

Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle some grated cheese. Bring some grated cheese to the table for individual servings.