Mussels and Linguini with a White Wine Herb Sauce

I’m not the biggest seafood person. My Mom cooked it pretty frequently growing up, but somehow now that I’m an adult I rarely eat it. It’s not that I don’t like fish — I just usually forget about it. Teddy will sometimes suggest fish for dinner, but I’m always too excited about the new recipe I want to try to pay much attention.
So imagine Teddy’s surprise when I suggested mussels for dinner one night. I’m sure it seems weird to have mussels as the first seafood I’ve cooked all by myself, but I was inspired by Deb Perelman. If she can get over her fish hang ups with mussels, maybe I could too.
And can I say, this mussels with linguini and white wine herb sauce is delicious! I whipped this up on a whim, and Teddy and I loved it so much that I wrote down the recipe so we could have it again. This is a really fun date night meal — there’s extra wine, it’s a little messy, and it’s so fun to eat! And while this recipe is for 2, mussels are so inexpensive ($6 for a pound at my grocery store!) that it can easily be scaled up for a quick meal with friends. I think it’d be a great light meal for a summer dinner party with friends. Teddy and I might have some summer plans lined up.

Mussels and Linguini with a White Wine Herb Sauce
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Moules à la Marinière and her Mussels with Tarragon Oven Fries from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Serves 2
1 lb mussels
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Sauvignon blanc
2 large shallots
3/4 – 1 tbsp thyme
3 tbsp chopped parsley (plus more to garnish)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 lbs of linguini
De-stem thyme, finely chop parsley and shallot (reserving at least 1 tbsp parsley for garnish)
Clean mussels, checking for chipped or opened shells and beards.
Put a large pot of water on high to boil. When water is boiling, salt generously and add pasta, cooking according to the package’s instructions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add wine, herbs, and shallots. Turn temperature to high and bring to a boil. Add mussels to pot and cover, cooking for 3-6 minutes until the shells are open and the mussels are smaller and start to curl up on themselves. Shake pot every now and then (making sure to hold down the lid!) to make sure the wine and herb mixture is evenly distributed.
Remove mussels from heat, drizzle the juice of one lemon, and sprinkle half of remaining parsley over them. Stir gently to make sure there aren’t any shells hogging all the lemon juice. Remove mussels from cooking liquid into a large bowl, cover, and set aside.
Once pasta is finished, drain and put back in pot. Pour sauce through a fine mesh strainer over the pasta (in case there are any shell fragments or grit). Stir to coat pasta, sprinkle with remaining parsley, portion into bowls and arrange mussels on top. Serve with toasted baguette slices (although we completely forgot about them until later) and the rest of the wine.

If you’ve never cooked mussels before, here are some tips that have helped us handle them:

– At the fish counter, ask for the mussels to be packed on ice. If the fish monger ties the bag closed, rip a little hole in the top of the bag so that the mussels won’t suffocate in the bag.

– I would buy the mussels as close to the time you’re planning on cooking them as possible. If you’re going to keep them in the fridge for a few hours, I’d put the mussels in a bowl in an ice bath so that they won’t sit in water and drown. (If you’re starting to wonder if mussels are finicky, they are. But they’re totally worth it!)

– To clean the mussels, scrub them with a brush under cold water to get rid of any grit. If there are any beards, just pull them down toward the hinge to remove them. Then they’re all ready to cook!

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