Pasta et Mussel Sauce


serves 6
400 g (14 oz) pasta shells
1 tbsp olive oil


3.5 litres (6 pints) mussels, scrubbed
250 ml (9 fl oz) 1 cup dry white wine
2 large onions, chopped
125 g (4 1/2 oz) 1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
300 ml (1/2 pint) 1 1/4 cups double (heavy) cream
salt and pepper
crusty bread, to serve


1. Pull off the 'beards' from the mussels and rinse well in several changes of water. Discard any mussels that refuse to close when tapped. Put the mussels in a large pan with the white wine and half of the onions. Cover the pan, shake and cook over a medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes until the mussels open.

2. Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the mussels with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquor, and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Discard any mussels that have not opened.

3. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the remaining onion for 3 - 4 minutes or until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Gradually pour on the reserved cooking liquor, stirring to blend thoroughly. Stir in the parsley and cream. Season to taste and bring to simmering point. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

4. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water, adding the oil,
for 8 - 10 minutes or until tender. Drain the pasta in a colander, return to the pan, cover and keep warm.

5. Remove the mussels from their shells, reserving a few shells for garnish. Stir the mussels into the cream sauce. Tip the pasta into a warmed serving dish, pour on the sauce and, using 2 large spoons, toss it together well. Garnish with a few of the reserved mussel shells. Serve hot, with warm, crusty bread.

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