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Pasta nero with fresh mussels

We are so lucky here in South Africa to have such a rich abundance of fresh shellfish available to us. And this pasta nero, packed with Mediterranean flavours, is a great way to enjoy it during the winter months when we are missing those scrumptious seafood braais.


red onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, 1 peeled and crushed
90 ml olive oil
10g fresh origanum
10g fresh thyme sprigs
600 ml tomato passata
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
150 ml cream
350g nero pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
100 ml white wine
1 lemon, sliced
300g fresh mussels in shells, cleaned
20g fresh basil
Grated Parmesan, to serve

1. In a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat, fry the onion and chopped garlic in 3 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add origanum and thyme, and fry for 2–3 minutes.
2. Add the tomato passata and sugar and turn the heat down. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Add 1 tbsp salt and pepper to taste, as well as the cream.
4. Meanwhile, boil water in a big pot with 2 tbsp salt and 2 tbsp olive oil. Add nero pasta and cook for 7–10 minutes, until al dente. Strain the water and toss the pasta with 1 tbsp olive oil.
5. Place the white wine, crushed garlic and lemon in a separate pot and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the mussels and place a lid on the pot. Steam for 5 minutes.
6. Serve the nero pasta with the tomato sauce and steamed mussels. Garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan.

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