Friday, January 20, 2012

Mussels Marinara with Spaghetti

I got a cookbook for Christmas called The Best of America's Test Kitchen (here) and it's absolutely incredible.  Each recipe was tested hundreds - yes, I did just say HUNDREDS - of times, so [every single one] will turn out perfectly.  I highly recommend this cookbook.  It's seriously is the best cookbook I have ever seen.  The chefs give a step-by-step story of how they developed the recipe, and they explain the type of food and all the flavors and textures it should have and everything!  I learned more about cooking in one page than I have ever known in my entire life.  This was my first recipe out of this book, and - like expected - it turned out perfect.  The only thing I did differently was add some grated Parmesan on top for garnishing. I also got a pasta maker for Christmas, so I decided to make home made pasta for the recipe (it was my first time ever making homemade pasta, which is why the noodles in the pictures are different sizes), and altered the pasta boiling time in the cook book to suit my homemade one (fresh pasta takes about 4-5 minutes, while store bought takes about double that).  The result? Well...this is the best pasta I have ever had.  I ordered mussels marinara at a local Italian restaurant a few months ago, and it wasn't very good at mom even complained after she tasted it because it tasted like it came from a can. But this was a billion times better!!  If you've never made fresh pasta, you have got to try it.  It just tastes so...fresh.  And flavorful; you can just tell that it's real, good-for-you food.  This dish actually tastes better after a few days because the homemade pasta absorbs the sauce.  But it's incredible any time you serve it.

Yield: About 6 servings

2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups water
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
1 pound spaghetti (see recipe below)
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Garnish: Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1.  Pulse tomatoes, 1 can at a time, in food processor until coarsely chopped and no large pieces remain, 6 to 8 pulses; transfer to bowl.
2.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven (or a large pot) over medium heat until shimmering.  Stir in onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, anchovy, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in processed tomatoes and simmer gently until tomatoes no longer taste raw, about 10 minutes. 
3.  Stir in water and clam juice and bring to a rapid simmer.  Cover and simmer vigorously, stirring often, for 8 minutes.  Add the homemade pasta.  Continue cooking for another three minutes. Stir in mussels and continue to simmer vigorously, covered, until pasta is tender and mussels have opened, about 2 minutes longer.
4.  Uncover, reduce heat to low, and stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil and parsley.  Cook, tossing pasta gently, until it is well coated with sauce, 1 to 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, and serve with Garlic Toasts (here).
***if using store bought pasta, add the pasta with the water and clam juice.

For the Homemade Pasta:


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the flour, add the slightly beaten egg, water, and olive oil, and mix. Mixture should form a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons more water.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. With a pasta machine or by hand, roll dough out to desired thinness. Use machine or knife to cut into strips of desired width. Let dry at least 2 hours before using.

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