Penne Pasta with Mussels

Penne Pasta with Mussels



1 lb. pasta (preferably Benedetto Cavalieri pasta or a similar artisanal, Italian brand)


for the sauce

1/8 cup olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 jar Maida Pomodorino Corbarino (or a 23.9 ounce jar of tomatoes)

1/4 cup white wine

salt, pepper

a good handful of fresh basil leaves, minced

a shake of hot red pepper flakes


to cook the mussels:

2 T. olive oil

1/4 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup white wine

3 to 4 dozen mussels


Start by making the sauce. Pour the olive oil into a pot, and add the onion, cooking them on low heat until softened. Add the garlic and sauté until softened. Add the tomatoes, breaking slightly with a wooden spoon, then the wine and seasonings. Keep some basil aside to use at the last minute to sprinkle over the top at the end. Let everything simmer for a half hour to an hour, while you cook the mussels.

In a separate pot, add the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic until slightly softened, over low heat. Turn up the heat to high when the onion and garlic are softened, pour in the white wine and add all the mussels. Place a lid over the mussels, and in a few minutes, they should start to open. Take off the lid, and using a pincers, remove the mussels that have opened to a bowl. Continue to do so until you have removed all the mussels. Save the liquid. Some of them may not open, even after five minutes. Throw those out. Let the mussels cool to a point where you can handle them, and remove them from the shell, keeping some intact to decorate the bowl with later.  Strain the liquid through a coffee filter (or paper towels) and pour some of it - maybe 1/2 cup to a cup) into the pot with the tomato sauce. Turn up the heat and cook a little longer to thicken the sauce.

When the sauce is cooked enough to the proper consistency and the pasta is almost finished cooking, add the mussels that you have extracted from the shells and let them simmer in the tomato sauce for a few minutes while you drain the pasta. 
Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine flavors. Serve in warm bowls or plates with some of the mussels in half shells on top.