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Adriatic Mussel Pasta

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
A bowl of mussel tomato pasta topped with fresh herbs.


  • 20 live mussels (8-10 per person)
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 fresh or 2 dry bay leaves
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 400g tin chopped Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tsp honey, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh mint
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley
  • 200-250g spaghetti pasta


  • Place fresh mussels in a sink filled with salty water - salty like the sea! This will keep them closed and fresh while you clean them.
  • Peel onions and finely slice. Slice capsicum in half, deseed and roughly slice.
  • Cover the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil measure. Heat oil over a medium-low heat.
  • Add onion and bay leaf, and sauté for a few minutes. Add capsicum, along with garlic salt. Sauté until onions are soft - don’t let it burn!
  • Add tinned tomatoes. Rinse tin with a few Tbsp of water (to collect all the tomato juice) and add to pot. Add honey. Bring to boil, mix well and simmer for 15 minutes. As it cooks, make sure to regularly mix and scrap the bottom of the pasta sauce pot with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t stick. After 15 minutes, remove from heat, roughly tear herbs and add to the pot.
  • While the sauce is cooking, start to clean the mussels, removing barnacles or impurities. To do this, scrap the outside of the shells with the tip of a paring knife to remove any impurities - holding your thumb on the tip of your knife blade will give you good control. Make sure to remove the beard, which is the mass of elastic threads poking out the side (easiest done with the pointy mussel side away from you) - to do this, using a knife, carefully grab hold of the beard between your fingers and blade and pull towards you. Once cleaned, place mussels into a nearby bowl filled with salty water, to keep them closed.
  • Once the mussels are clean, take directly from the salted water and add to the finished sauce - mix well after the addition of a few, and repeat.
  • Place the soup pot lid back on, turn onto medium heat, giving it a mix every few minutes making sure to scrap the bottom, until the mussels open - this will take only five or so minutes. The mussels will introduce more water to the dish - don’t worry about this, it will add lovely flavour! Once opened, they’re cooked.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Boil water in a stove pot. Add a Tbsp of both salt and olive oil. Cook spaghetti to packet directions until al dente (cooked with a bit of a bite - the pasta sauce will keep cooking it!). Drain pasta.
  • To serve, remove mussels from sauce and place into a large serving dish. Toss pasta with the sauce - taste test, and adjust salt if needed. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
  • Serve with mussels topped over pasta (either in their shells or remove), or keep mussels separate on a side plate.


Gluten-free? Use gluten-free pasta.
Egg-free? Check to see your pasta is egg-free.