It wasn’t until I moved from New York City to Chicago that I tasted mussels for the first time. I credit friends who had, at the time, more adventurous palates than my own along with a resolve to try just about anything once. I had mussels several times and I liked them just fine. When I discovered mussels Fra Diavolo, though, it was game over. Because mussels are served up in shells, often with a dramatic presentation, they appear to be something that would be difficult to recreate in your home kitchen. Not so much. All you need is a pan that has a lid and about, oh, eight minutes.
Mussels taste of little more than the sweet, briny ocean. Because mussels are basically a blank canvas, it’s a easy to dress them up however you see fit.
In this preparation, Fra Diavolo means “brother devil” in Italian, which refers to a spicy, tomato-based sauce. Though I love making homemade marinara sauce, this recipes looks to store bought sauce for convenience, but we jazz things up with fresh fennel, crushed red pepper, and garlic.
- 4 ounces uncooked linguine
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped fennel bulb
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup lower-sodium marinara sauce
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded (about 40)
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving ¾ cup pasta water.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add fennel and onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic, pepper, and salt; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add reserved pasta water and marinara to pan; cook 1 minute.
- Add mussels; cover and cook 3 minutes or until shells open. Discard any unopened shells.
- Place 1 cup pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with about 1½ cups mussels mixture. Sprinkle evenly with parsley.