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Angel Hair Pasta with Mussels & Tomato Sauce

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Serves four as a main course.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 13

Steaming the mussels directly in the pasta sauce streamlines the recipe and means more flavor in the sauce. If you don’t have Pernod, add 1/4 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur
  • 5 threads saffron, crushed and soaked in 1 Tbs. warm water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp. dried
  • 3/4 cup crisp, dry white wine
  • One 28-oz. can whole plum tomatoes with liquid (or 4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded)
  • 1-1/2 lb. medium mussels, cleaned and sorted
  • 3/4 lb. angel hair pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (with a lid) or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fennel and cook until the onion is translucent, another 8 to 10 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the Pernod, saffron, garlic, and thyme. After 1 minute, stir in the white wine and boil for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, put water on to boil for the pasta. When the tomato sauce has cooked for about 20 minutes, scatter the mussels over the tomato sauce and cover the pot. Steam until the shells are open, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any that won’t open. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and keep it warm while you boil the pasta in salted water. Divide the pasta and sauce among four serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 590; Fat (g): fat g 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 18; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 2; Protein (g): protein g 31; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 87; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 580; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 40; Fiber (g): fiber g 7;

Photo: Susan Kahn

I've made this a few times and it always turns out great. Even the leftovers are good and can be frozen successfully.

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