Ever since I had the mushroom pasta and mussels with white sauce at La Maison, I had been planning on replicating them at home. I bought mussels so many times after that first lunch there but the mussels always ended up in the oven — baked and topped with cheese. Well, I had a kilo and a half of mussels soaking in water in the fridge overnight and I figured it was now or never. Then, I discovered I didn’t have any fresh mushrooms. So, instead of a mussel with white sauce dish and a mushroom pasta dish, I created a pasta and mussels with cheese sauce lunch.
An oil-free pasta dish. No butter, no olive oil even. I never thought anything oil-free could taste so good.
Now, this recipe is good for a single serving. It was just an experiment, after all, and just in case I messed up, I didn’t want to be wasteful. But it did turn out well, so I’m cooking the rest of the mussels in the fridge with pasta and cheese sauce for dinner tonight.
Pasta and mussels with cheese sauce
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
Reheat the pasta water and bring to the boil. Add the mussels. Pour in the white wine. Boil until the mussels open, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop out the mussels and allow the liquid to continue boiling until reduced to half. You want a more concentrated mussel stock with the full bodied flavor of the wine so reduce, reduce, reduce.
Meanwhile, open the mussel shells and discard the empty halves.
To the reduced liquid in the pan, add the crumbled cheeses. Stir until melted. Turn off the heat. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Add the cooked pasta and mussels. Toss to coat.
Tip the contents of the pan to a plate. Sprinkle torn parsley over the pasta and mussels with cheese sauce.