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Author Notes: After a ridiculous tsunami of multiple family illnesses, deaths, work crisis, dental emergencies and a sick dog, there's really nothing left to do but pour yourself a glass of good wine, and watch a good meal practically create itself (and yes, I do find chopping all of that garlic cathartic). We used rotini because that's all that was in the pantry - go ahead and use the pasta shape of your choice. It helps to have some excellent crusty bread on hand - there will be plenty of sauce leftover for dipping.
—zest in the midwest
pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded (note: here in the midwest, often the frozen pasteurized mussels taste better than the fresh ones we get - use your judgement based on your geography)
pint homemade tomato sauce (in a pinch, blend a can of good quality diced tomatoes)
cloves garlic, finely minced
tablespoons tomato paste
cup white wine
teaspoon red pepper flakes (use more or less to taste - depending on your preference for heat)
cup sweet onion, chopped
tablespoons olive oil
tablespoon unsalted butter
Handful of good quality green olives brined with garlic (optional)
- Start the pasta water: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- While the water is heating, add the olive oil, red pepper flakes and onion to a large skillet. Cook on medium heat, until onions become soft.
- Add the garlic and saute until the garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for another two minutes.
- Pour in the white wine and tomato sauce - stir gently until the mixture begins to simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. (If all diners are ok with the olives, add them to the sauce now. If there are anti-olive people in your home, go ahead and just top the finished dish with a few olives before serving for those who desire to consume the briny goodness.)
- At this point, the pasta water should be ready. Add pasta to pot and stir gently.
- While pasta is cooking, add the mussels to the sauce. Cover the pot while the mussels cook and open.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pasta pot. Toss with the butter.
- Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Place the pasta in bowls, spooning plenty of sauce and mussels in each.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Seafood Pasta