lb PEI mussels, rinsed and debearded
cup white wine
cup unsalted butter
large onion, thinly sliced
garlic cloves, thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
can whole tomatoes (796 ml)
sprigs fresh basil
dried red chili flakes
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In a large pot with a lid bring wine and ¼ cup of water to a boil, once boiling add mussels. Cover and cook mussels for 5 – 6 minutes, shaking the pot to stir the mussels a few times. Once most of the mussels have opened, transfer mussels to a bowl to cool. Strain cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve and set aside.
In the same pot used to the cook the mussels, melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 12 - 14 minutes until onions begin to soften, stirring often. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup reserved mussel liquid. Add whole tomatoes to the pot, breaking up the tomatoes with your hands as you add them, 2 sprigs of basil and a pinch of dried chili flakes. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until onions are completely soft and the sauce has thickened.
Once the mussels have cooled, discard any unopened mussels. Remove meat from half the shells, discard empty shells and keep remaining mussels intact, set aside.
Meanwhile add pasta to boiling water, cooking until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain pasta, add to the pot with tomato sauce, stir in reserved mussels and shells. Toss together, season with salt and pepper. Add reserved mussel liquid if needed.
Serve in large pasta bowls. Tear fresh basil leaves over top and sprinkle over dried chili flakes if desired.
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