Finding good stuff you weren’t looking for is a happy deal. (There’s a word for it — serendipitous — but it’s a mouthful.) I began today looking for web art of pasta with mussels because I wanted to say how much better and more interesting spaghetti is with mussels than with clams, and when I made it last Sunday I forgot to take a picture. So I stole this from Food & Wine.
Then I went looking for the NYT piece by Mark Bittman that Dee sent me last month, the one that started us on seafood pasta. We made it for dinner one Saturday night. The next week, I wanted to make some for Megan, so on a Wegman’s trip I meant to pick up a couple bags of littleneck clams. We were in a hurry. I didn’t notice at the checkout that I actually was paying for two bags of mussels (they were in the same ice bath the clams had occupied the week before) until the woman in line behind me asked, “Mussels? What are you making?”
“Uh … pasta sauce,” I said, because why not. Mussels could work.
So it turns out that mussels make a much richer sauce than clams. Wow. (Recipe at the end.)
That’s it. That’s what I wanted to say. Except that while looking for the pasta post I found today’s Mark Bittman post about ChopChop, a cooking magazine for kids that sounds interesting. He says some things and quotes some things, the best of which is this:
“Cooking is not so much a matter of right or wrong but of learning what you like.”
Here’s something I liked that you might too:
24 mussels, scrubbed
4 ounces white wine
Salt (probably not much) and pepper to taste
4 ounces pasta
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cloves sliced garlic, or to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Put the wine and the mussels in a large covered saute pan, steam until they open.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
After the mussels open (maybe 5-10 minutes) take them off the heat and let them cool. Throw out any that do not open.
Take the meat out of the mussel shells, strain and reserve the liquid.
Chop the mussels.
Cook the pasta in the boiling salted water.
Add olive oil to the saute pan and cook the red pepper flakes and garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the mussels and continue to cook, stirring, for about a minute.
Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved shellfish liquid.
Drain the pasta when it’s nearly done and stir it into the clams.
Cook, stirring, until the pasta is tender and the mixture is saucy. Add more clam-cooking liquid (or hot water or white wine), if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little butter if you like.
Garnish with parsley and some mussel shells, and serve.