Pasta Shells with Mussels


serves 4
1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz) mussels
225 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup dry white wine
2 large onions, chopped
115 g (4 oz) 1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
300 ml (1/2 pint) 1 1/4 cups double (heavy) cream
400 g (14 oz) dried pasta shells
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
crusty bread, to serve


1. Scrub and debeard the mussels under cold running water. Discard any mussels that do not close immediately when sharply tapped. Put the mussels into a large saucepan, together with the wine and half of the onions. Cover and cook over a medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, for 2 - 3 minutes, or until the shells open.

2. Remove the pan from the heat. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Strain the cooking liquid through a clean cloth into a glass jug (pitcher) or bowl and reserve.

3. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the remaining onion and fry until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the reserved cooking liquid. Stir in the parsley and cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to simmering point over a low heat.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and oil and cook for 8-10
minutes until just tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, return to the pan, cover and keep warm.

5. Reserve a few mussels for the garnish and remove the remainder from their shells. Stir the shelled mussels into the cream sauce and warm briefly.

6. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish. Pour over the sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with the reserved mussels.

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