|CLASSIC pasta||tagliatelle with mussels and peas|
is another great spring-time presentation (although it is truly fine all
year -- it is just that the first spring fresh peas are perfection). For
those of us who love mussels in white wine broth, this is simply another
way to enjoy that same treat -- with the added attraction of fresh
pasta. The best!
Note on wine: this is a dish that requires a bright, acidic wine -- the great sauvignon blancs for example. Or, the Italian whites of the north: pinot grigio or soave work excellently. Just stay away from an oaked chardonnay.
for the pasta:
De-beard the mussels and scrub them. Let them sit in cold water for about fifteen minutes.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold the mussels and the pasta over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of butter; thirty seconds later add the shallots. Cook until soft, but do not brown.
Stir in the mussels, gently, and the basil. Add a half teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Add the wine. Stir gently, and a minute later cover. Continue to cook, checking regularly, until all the mussels are open. (Like clams, if one simply does not open, toss it). Turn off the heat.
Meanwhile bring 4-5 quarts of water to a raging boil. Add two tablespoons of salt and then the pasta. Stir. Check regularly and stop when the pasta is almost al dente. Drain.
Return the sauce to heat. Add the peas. A minute later add the mussels, Add the pasta. Stir gently. Add the two tablespoons of butter. Stir gently. Cover and cook over a medium-high heat for a minute or two, to get the pasta steaming hot.
Serve in bowls, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.