Spaghetti with mussels, carrots and cream
( SERVES 4 )
Photo by Tam West
New Zealand green-lipped mussels must be one of the best examples of marketing success when it comes togood, easily available, additive-free, cheap, and I would think organic, food. If you take the trouble not to overcook them and to carefully pull out the brown tongue and its white root from each mussel after they are cooked, the mussels will be very tender. Don’t use any mussels that refuse to close when given a sharp tap on the shell as these ones are dead. When cooking pasta, add enough salt to the water so that it tastes like sea water; this is how pasta is seasoned. Italians never waste their expensive olive oil by putting it in the pasta cooking water in the mistaken belief that it stops the pasta sticking together. You stop it sticking by stirring until it comes back to the boil. Italians rarely add cheese to seafood pasta.
- Put the mussels into a large saucepan and add 250ml water. Bring to the boil and remove the mussels as the shells open and the mussels have just come away from the shells. Don’t overcook.
- Place the mussels in a bowl and strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Shell the mussels and pull the beard, the brown tongue and its white root carefully from each mussel. Slice the mussels in half lengthways. Reserve.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over moderate heat and add the onion, carrots, garlic and zest. Fry gently for 10 minutes without browning or until the onion is soft.
- Add the reserved mussel cooking liquid and cream and boil 3 minutes. Add the reserved mussels and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt if necessary (be careful, the mussels are salty) and freshly ground black pepper.
- Stir in the parsley, toss with the hot spaghetti and serve.