Saturday, May 24, 2008

pasta meets mussels

We are always looking for a pasta dish with fresh seafood. Finding one that uses mussels is a bit of a challenge. But here is one: mussels with an anise flavor -- simple, beautiful and tasty.

This recipe is adapted from a lovely article in Food and Wine that featured not only the pasta dish but the lovely celadon-glazed porcelain bowls (as shown).Perhaps Pernod is not the most Italian of flavorings, but what works, works. Note: we do not use a full pound of pasta for a four-person serving -- the smaller portion seems to strike a proper balance.

for the sauce:
  • two tablespoons olive oi
  • one medium onion, peeled and diced
  • two garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • hree-quarters cup white wine
  • one-quarter cup Pernod
  • thirty-six small mussels, about two pounds
  • three-quarter cups heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • one tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves

for the pasta

  • three-quarter pounds freshly made tagliatelle (home-made linguine also works fine)

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic. After fifteen seconds, add the onion. Cook until softened, about five minutes.

Add the sprigs of thyme, the wine and the Pernod. Add the mussels, cover and cook until they are all open. (check under the lid regularly to make sure -- should be about five minutes). When the mussels are all open (there might be one or so tough ones who refuse to open) transfer the mussels to a bowl. Throw away the non-openers. Boil the remianing liquid to reduce it about half. Toss out the thyme. Add the mussels (gently) along with their juices, and the chopped tarragon. Add a half teaspoon of salt and a few twists of the pepper mill. Stir again -- gently.

Bring five quarts of water to a big boil. Add two tablespoons fo salt. Add the tagliatelle. Cook until almost al dente. Drain. A little moisture will not hurt.

Add the tagliatelle to the re-heated sauce. Toss so that the pasta is well coated. Cover and cook over medium high heat for one minute to get steaming. Serve with tarragon leaves as garnish.

Here is another pasta plus mussels recipe: go to Click on pasta then tagliatelle, and find "tagliatelle with mussels and fresh peas".

If you have some Pernod left that you would like to use, here is another:, click on "extra pantry" and find "veal stew with fennel and tomatoes".