Mussels Linguine with Quick Tomato Sauce

The ingredients list might look extensive but the basic sauce, as good on its own, is perfect as a building block to whatever you find at your pantry or aisles of the supermarket. It is just so versatile. You can swap the mussels for a can of tuna or some squids. Playing up your creativity, add a few stalks of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves if you prefer some thai influence. Splash a can of beer or a glass of white wine if you ran out of chicken stock. Fresh tomato sauce, intensified with a sidekick of salty anchovies and depth from smokiness of the bacon. A touch of cream and butter to silken and brightened with some lemon. Quick and easy, cooking and serving with the same pot. The perfect week night dinner that wow the table.

Mussels are cheap to buy and big on flavours. This dish cost less than 5 dollars per serving.
Serves 2-3 hungry people.

3 tablespoon olive oil
200g linguine pasta (slightly less than half a pack)
500g/ a pound of fresh green mussels, washed and scrubbed  
Half spanish onion, diced
3 clove garlic, finely sliced 
6 sun dried tomatoes, finely sliced
A few sprigs of Thyme
4 little anchovies fillets (approximately half a tin)
3 slices bacon, diced
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes 
A can of tomatoes, diced
 2 cups chicken stock 
Handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered
Half lemon squeeze
1-2 tablespoon cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive oil
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the salt, and cook the linguine a couple of minutes less than the package time. I undercooking the pasta a little, just about to 80 percent. Drained and set aside. 
The middle of the strand is still uncook. It will be cooked to al dente with the sauce. 

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large wide-bottom skillet or saucepan with a lid. Sweat the onions and garlic for 5 minute, add anchovies, bacon, thyme and chilli flakes. Sauté till fragrant and bacon edges are slightly browned. Add the can of diced tomatoes cook for 5 mins then follow by the stock. Toss in mussels and cover pot. Cook till all mussels are open, shaking once or twice. Remove and set aside the cooked mussels, discard any unopened shells. Reduced the sauce by 1/3, followed by cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, heat through and toss in the mussels. Sprinkle some chiffonade basil, grated Parmesan cheese and a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze some lemon with a wedge on the side.

-TIll next post, ss.

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